Prime Day Strategy Guide: How to Make the Most of Amazon Prime Day

With over 100,000 deals planned, it's easy to be overwhelmed by Prime Day. Here's our strategy guide to make sure you don't miss out.
Amazon Prime Day

Last year, Amazon introduced its Prime Day with great success. It broke Black Friday records, with 398 items being sold every second from start to finish. It's no surprise that Amazon wants to try to recreate that triumph, and this year, Prime Day will kick off on July 12 at 3 am ET.

But some readers may recall from last year, this isn't your typical sale. There are waves of products being released at different times, with some being far hotter than others. And with so many people waiting for the offers, some items were gone in seconds.

In an effort to make sure you don't miss out on the 100,000 deals Amazon is planning, we've put together a strategy guide on how to approach Prime Day.

There Are 3 Types of Prime Day Deals

Prime Day savings are going to be spread out across three different types of deals. First there are the Prime Day Spotlight Deals. These are good until stock runs out, and, according to Amazon, the "best deals you'll find on Prime Day."

Second are the Amazon Lightning Deals. If you've ever shopped the site, especially on Black Friday, these will look extremely familiar. Lightning Deals are short-lived and limited-stock deals. They typically run for around three hours before they expire. They feature a status bar that shows the percentage of items claimed and a timer showing the amount of time left on the promotion.

If the deal is fully claimed, you can sign up for the waiting list by clicking the Join Waitlist button as long as there's an open slot left. If you have the app downloaded, you'll receive a notification on your phone if the item becomes available again and you can claim it.

Prime Day Spotlight Deals will likely offer the best discounts during the sale, and they're available until stock runs out. Meanwhile, Lightning Deals are short-lived and limited-stock, so the best offers sell out in a flash.

The last kind of deal falls under the Prime Savings and Deals section. These are promotions that run all day. ("Or within Prime Day," according to Amazon, which probably means end of day, give or take a few hours.) These will require you to click "See Details" to see what the discount amounts to. Add the item to your cart and you'll see the discount applied on the checkout page.

You Need Prime to Participate, But You Can Try Prime Free for 30 Days

If you aren't currently a Prime member, but the idea of Prime Day is intriguing to you, go ahead and sign up for Prime now. Currently, a year's membership is $99. But you can also dip your toe in the Prime water and sign up for a free 30-day trial. You'll still be able to take advantage of the deals on Prime Day (as well as other perks of Prime). You're also free to cancel after Prime Day, if you no longer want to be a member.

Create a Wishlist to Easily Scan for Desired Discounts

What are you looking for on Prime Day? Think about what you want to shop for, whether it's household items or big-ticket buys. Put it all on a separate wishlist. This will make double-checking prices so much easier on Prime Day, when time will be a factor. The sooner you make your list, the better, since Amazon is already hosting a handful of deals every day leading up to July 12.

SEE ALSO: Here's What Will Go on Sale During Amazon Prime Day

Once you've finished your list, it's time to check it. Pull it up and sort by items with price drops. This is the easiest way to check to see if there's been a decrease since you added these picks. It's also a great way to know if you're getting a good deal, or you're getting ripped off with a bogus sale price.

How to Know if Lightning Deals Are Worth Buying

We recommend doing your research beforehand, so you know how good a price drop is when you see it. But if you're faced with a deal that you haven't researched, what can you do?

First, add the item to your cart. Once you have it in cart, you have 15 minutes to complete the purchase before the item is released to the public again. That should be enough time to do a quick search in Google Shopping to discern whether the price is currently the lowest.

If you take the plunge and discover later that the deal wasn't worth it, Amazon is pretty lenient with returns. However, be aware that if you give your reason for returning as you just didn't want it, you could be subject to a return shipping fee, or a restocking fee.

Waiting for a Lightning Deal to Go Live? Get Alerts on Your Phone

Another great way to tackle Lightning Deals is by using the Amazon App. Browse through upcoming deals, mark "Watch Deal" on the ones you're interested in while in the App. (You can also do this on the website once you've logged in.) Then, right before the deals become available, you'll receive a notification on your smartphone. Make sure you have notifications set on the app so you don't miss out!

Borrow a Friend's Echo to Take Advantage of Alexa-Only Deals

This year, Amazon wants customers to shop with Alexa, so it's offering some incentives to do so. From today through Prime Day, using Alexa to shop will score you $10 off an order over $20. To order with Alexa, use the Echo, Echo Dot, or Tap, and ask Alexa to order you something. Amazon suggests "Alexa, order an Amazon Tap" of course (which you can currently snag for $79, an Editors' Choice price). Don't have an Alexa-supported device? Try borrowing one from a friend, or asking them to order on your behalf.

Follow on Facebook for Extras

Amazon is advertising via Facebook this year. If you mark that you're attending Prime Day on the event page and then you'll be eligible for certain extras that Amazon is advertising. These are purported to include tips and tricks on shopping Prime Day deals, giveaways, relevant news, information on various deals, and exclusive content.

Check the Price History to Avoid Being Ripped Off

Something to always be concerned about during major sales (or any other time you're shopping, really) is making sure you don't end up being ripped off. It seems like retailers are constantly being outed as having fake sales, where they mark up the prices significantly and then try to claim the sales are bigger than they actually are. Many people thought some Prime Day sales last year fell into the "meh" category.

A great way to avoid the mediocre deals at this year's Prime Day sale is to use Camel Camel Camel. It's available as an extension or you can just use the website, if you'd rather not to install a new browser add-on. Using this tool, you can track pricing over time from Amazon, as well as third-party sellers. If you search for a particular item, you can see the pricing history and know whether the Prime Day discount is great, or just OK. Camel Camel Camel also lets you set a price alert, so that you'll know when an item hits your desired price.

Readers, are you shopping Prime Day this year? What strategies will you be using? Let us know in the comments below!

Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015, after many years of becoming well-versed in technology issues as a communications professional for a software company. She first entered journalism in college, reporting on issues facing frugal students for Julie lives in DealNews' hometown of Huntsville, AL.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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Hey look, STILL not all that impressive this year. :/
Yeeeah, wasn't too impressed with it last year. I'm sure the deals were great for some, but tbh, a lot of it was crap I wouldn't regularly buy or even need.
I like Amazon's prime day and the deals go very fast
Just a bunch of crap Amazon wants to get rid of.
Look up #PrimeDayFail from last year. I can't wait to get a family pack of brass knuckles, some cheap tupperware, and a Cloris Leachman T-Shirt!
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@harpervalley300 It was a HUGE success for Amazon. The second sentence in this writeup notes why: "It broke Black Friday records, with 398 items being sold every second from start to finish." That's what we meant by it was a great success; the actual event was clearly a success for the store. We note that some people were disappointed in the last section of the writeup; there were definitely shoppers who were underwhelmed but that doesn't change that it was a major coup for Amazon in terms of sales.
"Last year, Amazon introduced its Prime Day with great success."

LOLWAT? Citation, please. I heard Prime Day sucked. Deals were not nearly as good as hyped to be, and many items were out-of-season merchandise. The phrase "biggest garage sale of the year" was used by some.
Screw prime day...we don't need anymore stupid reasons to buy more stuff!