Amazon Prime Day is coming up again. The company has tried to frame the now-annual shopping extravaganza as an alternative to Black Friday -- of course, because no other retailer takes official part, although other big names like Target, Walmart, Macy's, and Best Buy have tried promoting their own alternative sales.
It's all good news if you're already in the market for something and would like to save some extra money. But you need to go in with a plan. Here are some of the considerations and steps you should take.
Know the dates
Actual sales start at 9pm ET/6pm PT on July 10 and run through 3AM ET/midnight PT on July 12.
Get everything you need for the best discounts
To get any of the Amazon deals, you need a Prime membership. If you've got one already, that's fine. If not, you can get a 30-day trial and then do the calculations to see whether savings in shipping, access to streaming media, and the like are worth more to you than the annual fee.
Some deals will only be available if you use the Alexa voice function on an Amazon device like the Echo line, Tap, Fire TV, or Fire tablet.
Know the deals
To build interest, Amazon is announcing deals daily, starting today, June 29. For example, there will supposedly be some good deals on televisions and you can get discounts on some Amazon media access services, like 40% off Kindle Unlimited (ebook access) and 40% off the first six months of access at Audible.com (audiobooks).
You'll want the Amazon App on your mobile device. Go to "Today's Deals" and click "Upcoming" and then tap "Watch this deal" to see deals up to 24 hours ahead of when they go live. You'll even get a notification when the deal is about to start.
Amazon Assistant can help you watch for deals from your PC.
To know if any given item does go on sale, even if it isn't yet listed, add it to your shopping list on Amazon for a notification. You can do this by logging in with a browser or using the Amazon App.
Get additional discounts
If you've got the Amazon Prime Store Card, you can get an additional 5% back. Any Prime member can load an Amazon gift card with a linked debit card for 2% back. Although that may not be the way you'd normally shop, if there's something you know you'll want, making a shift for the extra discount might make sense.
Look for competing sales
Expect other retailers to try snagging some of the sales excitement. Do a web search for the retailer name and the words July and sales. That should help locate what other companies are doing.
Also look to third-party sites like DealNews that track retail discounts on a daily basis. If you can get what you need at a great price now, why wait to see when something appears on Amazon?