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How to Make the Most of Amazon Prime Day Sales

Not surprisingly, Amazon-branded products often have the lowest prices

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For online shoppers, Amazon Prime Day has become one of the biggest sales events of the year. The annual event is an opportunity for Prime members to snag Black Friday-level savings on certain items and hefty discounts on many others.  

Prime Day has overtaken Labor Day as the chief late summer retail event, according to a survey from RetailMeNot, in which 96 percent of Prime shoppers say they’ve either shopped Prime Day in the past or are interested in shopping it this year.  

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Nonmembers can also take advantage of the deals by signing up for a 30-day free Prime trial. The membership costs $14.99 per month (or $139 per year), so if you’re not interested in maintaining the membership, make sure to set an alarm to cancel your trial.

There are so many items on sale during Prime Day that Kristin McGrath, a savings expert with RetailMeNot, suggests having a plan of attack before you log on to the site.

“Amazon designs the sale to get you to discover things you never knew you wanted or needed that are very much on sale,” she says. “The best way is to think about things you’ve been meaning to buy or things you wanted to stock up on, and add them to your cart or wish list, so you don’t end up making a lot of impulse purchases.”

Although Prime Day officially kicks off at 3 a.m. EDT on July 11 and runs for 48 hours after that, you can start prepping now to take full advantage of the available deals. Start by making a list of items that you might purchase and tracking their prices (the tool is great for this), so you’ll know whether you’re getting a good price for them later.

You can sign up through the Amazon app for personalized deal alerts on recently searched or viewed items. If you have an Alexa device, you can use that for deal notifications on items from your wish list, cart or the “Save for Later” tab. To do that, you’ll need to ask Alexa to add the item to your cart or wish list, then ask it to tell you when a deal goes live for that product. ​

When Prime Day arrives, use these strategies to make the most of it:

Focus on Amazon-branded products …

Though Amazon will cut prices on items in all categories from a range of brands, you’ll find the best deals on Amazon’s own merchandise, especially tech, such as smart home devices, wireless headphones and laptops, according to money consultant Andrea Woroch.

… but skip most TVs and gaming consoles

Except for Amazon-branded Fire TVs, most of the discounts on televisions and gaming consoles will be lower than those you’ll see on Black Friday. Given the higher cost of such products, if you don’t need it right away, you’re better off waiting until November. 

Take your time …

Though some items could sell out on Prime Day, and there will be some limited-time “lightning deals,” most Prime Day discounts will last throughout the two-day event. That means you don’t have to feel rushed to make the purchase or worry about setting an alarm to log on right after that 3 a.m. start time.

… and shop around

The hype around Amazon’s summer shopping event means that lots of competitors will launch similar sales in a bid to grab consumers’ attention as well. Here’s a look at some other big sales to check out, occurring both online and in person:

  • Target “Circle Week” — July 9–12
  • Best Buy’s “Black Friday in July” sale — July 10–12
  • Macy’s “Black Friday in July” sale — July 6–12

“We are expecting the competitors to have the same prices as Amazon on some products, but you may be able to get them sooner if you can pick them up locally,” says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews, a comparison-shopping website.

Amazon-owned retailers Zappos and Whole Foods may also have extra discounts throughout Prime Day, says Kimberly Palmer, a spokesperson with the personal finance website Nerdwallet.

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Beware of scammers …

Savvy shoppers aren’t the only ones looking to take advantage of Prime Day. A growing number of criminals see it as an opportunity for identity theft or other scams, says Kiri Addison, detection and efficacy product manager with Mimecast. After you’ve placed an order, be sure to scrutinize any emails or texts from Amazon or other online retailers to make sure they’re legitimate before clicking on any links. Scammers might send a fake email from Amazon or UPS suggesting an issue with your delivery.

“If you’re unsure, go directly to the website or call the company directly, rather than clicking on links,” Addison says.

… and porch pirates

In addition to the online fraudsters, package thieves see opportunities in the uptick in online orders throughout July. Package theft is a growing problem, and it’s an issue in July when many people are placing online orders but also traveling frequently, says Tim Rader, director of product development at ADT.

A recent ADT study found that more than one in five Americans have had a package stolen while they’re away from home. Protect your packages by signing up for real-time delivery updates and installing motion-activated doorbell cameras.

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