Prime Day, Amazon’s summer shopping event, is back for its fourth appearance. On Monday, July 16, Amazon will offer deals for thirty-six hours on over a million products on its sites around the world. Bargain hunters can track all the action starting at noon Pacific time via the company’s Prime Day landing page.

If you still haven’t checked out Prime Day, it may sound like an overhyped “Black Friday in July” sale. But while the company did fall flat in its first year with a crop of lackluster deals, the last two years featured a selection of genuinely good tech bargains.

For 2018, Amazon appears to be kicking up its efforts even further and tempting shoppers with more deals, better deals, and greater supplies of the best deals—new for this year are deals at Whole Foods and a new initiative called “Prime Day Launches.” Here’s what you need to know about Prime Day and how to prepare.

Note: To take advantage of Prime Day sales, you must be a member of Amazon Prime. This service is Amazon’s $120-a-year club that offers free two-day shipping on orders, as well as a litany of frills like free premium video and music streaming, free online photo storage, a Kindle lending library, and various promotional offers. New Prime members get a free 30-day trial, which means you can sign up, get the Prime deals, and then dump the membership before the $120 fee kicks in.

Prime Day: A brief history

The first Prime Day wasn’t that great. Amazon introduced it in 2015 to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary—and of course increase the number of Prime members. As for the sales, there were a few decent deals, but critics and shoppers largely agreed the day was a bust compared to the holidays.

amazon prime day 2016 infographic usa croppedAmazon

In 2016, the deals got better, but smart shoppers still had to do some legwork to separate the good buys from the bad. Prime Day 2016 was also hit with technical issues surrounding Amazon’s checkout system. There was also some stiff competition for Lightning Deals, with many of them selling out crazy fast.

(For the uninitiated, Lightning Deals generally offer some of the best sale prices on Amazon. They feature limited stock available at a low price for a short time, which makes the demand for them that much higher.)

For its third outing in 2017, Amazon promised Prime Day would offer better deals and higher inventories yet again, plus a focus on new items—the two previous Prime Days were heavy on open-box items. But for the tech-obsessed, the deals on devices, components, and gadgets weren’t as expansive as we’d hoped.

What to expect from Prime Day 2018

Similar to 2017, we expect Amazon to launch a series of sales leading up to Prime Day as an appetizer for the main deals smorgasbord. If the inaugural deals announced are any indication, these early bargains may span a much wider variety of categories and products than last year’s daily themes (e.g., Amazon Music, Everyday Essentials, Amazon Reading). Sneak peeks of select products that will receive Prime Day discounts will be available from July 9 through July 15 in the Amazon app.





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