Amazon Prime Day 2018: Here’s everything you need to know

Prime Day is today! Here's everything you need to know to win the day

When it comes to online shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday usually get all of the attention. But for a brief moment in July, the spotlight shines on Amazon’s biggest sale of the year: Prime Day. If you’re looking to come away with some great deals this year, or just want some information on how it works, we’re here to be your guide to Amazon Prime Day 2018.

How to win Prime Day 2018

Prime Day is a great time find discounts on TVs, an Amazon Echo, cooking gadgets, and just about everything in between. But if you really want to save big this year, you can’t do it alone. With the fast-paced nature of Prime Day deals, you’re going to need the expertise of seasoned experts hard at work. To help guide you on the day of, we’ve put together this handy little checklist just for you:

  1. Pick up a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime! Prime deals are only for Prime members, just make sure you cancel it before your 30 days are up to avoid paying for a full year.
  2. Bookmark our curated deals page! Our entire staff will be hard at work to bring you the crème de la crème of Prime Day deals.
  3. Follow us on Twitter! We’ll be dishing out the latest and greatest Lightning Deals in real time, so you’ll want to pay close attention.
  4. Keep an eye on those Lighting Deals! Some of the best savings on Prime Day can disappear in an instant if you aren’t ready for them.
  5. Check back regularly! Deals are constantly changing, so keep coming back to see what savings are coming down the pipeline.

What is Prime Day?

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In 2015, the ecommerce giant celebrated 20 years of dominating online commerce by instituting a little thing called Prime Day, a day of sales meant to eclipse America’s biggest buying holiday, Black Friday. Anyone with an Amazon Prime Membership has access to awesome deals on various items, including electronics. Despite a few hiccups around certain deals not being genuine, the newly minted Amazon holiday was an immediate success, and Prime Day became solidified as the annual buying extravaganza it is today.

The latest tech, whether it be TVs or Fire tablets, can be astonishingly expensive, so Prime Day could be a great chance to fill your house with cool gadgets without having to take out a second mortgage. For an idea of what to expect, including TV deals, keep reading to make sure you are fully informed.

When is Amazon Prime Day 2018?

Prime Day will start on July 16 at 3 p.m. ET (noon PT) and will run through July 17. This year the sale will last 36 hours — up from 30 hours in 2017 — with more than 1 million deals exclusively for Prime members around the world, plus select deals at all U.S. Whole Foods Market stores. Take a look at the Amazon Prime Day page for more info surrounding the exclusive deals.

How does Prime Day work?

Amazon Prime Day deals are only available to users with an Amazon Prime account. Prime is a subscription service offered by Amazon that includes free two-day shipping on many items sold on the site, as well as access to a huge library of streaming TV shows and movies and a helpful little assistant called Alexa. Once you have a subscription, you can start taking advantage of some of the best deals the internet has to offer — including one of our favorite smart speakers, the Echo.

Savings appear in a few different categories — price cuts, promotions, and Lightning Deals. Price cuts will be your more stable discounted offers, with the only stipulation being limited supplies. A good example of this from last year is the top-selling 55-inch TCL 4K Smart TV, which was meant to be deeply discounted all day, but quickly sold out. Promotions are less about goods and more about services, meaning they are far less likely to sell out. You’re likely to see lower prices on Amazon Video, Music, and deep savings on Amazon devices such as Fire HD tablets, Kindle Devices, and a whole host of Alexa-enabled tech. This celebration of ecommerce is a great time to pick up an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, TP-Link devices, and Blu-Ray box sets.

If you’re looking to snag the most extreme savings on electronics, home appliances, and a plethora of other products, you’re going to need to keep your wits about you and dive into the Lightning Deals.

How do you get Lightning Deals from Amazon?

what to expect from prime day lightning

Lightning Deals are sales with special Prime Day pricing. They typically offer a heavy discount, but as the name implies, they come and go quickly. These items often have a limited supply, and given the amount of traffic the site gets even on a relatively slow day, the best can sell out before you even get the item in your cart. Because they are so popular, users are required to complete their purchase within 15 minutes. If they don’t, the item in question is put back on the market. If the entire stock of an item is sitting in shoppers’ carts, you can join a waitlist for that specific item to become available again, and receive a notification if the item has been made available.

If you’re smart, which we know you are, you’ll want to go to the Amazon Deals page on the day of the event and sort by “upcoming deals.” This will give you the chance to get prepared for a deal before it goes live. Just because you’re being proactive doesn’t mean you’ll be lucky enough to nab all of the savings you want. You’re competing with thousands of people for a limited quantity, so don’t feel too bad if you miss out on something you wanted.

What kinds of deals can you expect?

For starters, you’re going to see deals on just about every Amazon device we know of. Everything, from the Kindle Paperwhite to the Amazon Echo Dot, will likely be receiving a price cut on the big day. Already, we know that the Echo Show is going to have a $100 discount from Monday, July 9, through Prime Day, so if you’re looking to start your smart home, or just add to it, now is a great time to do just that.

Beyond the obvious deals, however, you’ll likely see something that very closely resembles Black Friday. That means low prices on TVs, smartphones, home appliances, and of course, the Instant Pot. The day will certainly be ripe with savings, you just need to make sure you find the right ones — which is where we come in.

How do you know if a deal is actually a good deal?

It can be easy to get swept up in the fast-paced nature of Prime Day, but like with all online shopping, sometimes you just need to stop and ask yourself this question: Am I getting a good deal? Online retailers want you to make purchases and will often discount products to insanely low prices to get you to pull the trigger. However, not all price cuts are as they seem. Just because the internet tells you something is at it’s lowest price ever doesn’t mean it actually is. If you see a coffee shop claiming to have the best coffee in the world, do you believe them, or scoff at their baseless assumptions?

To make sure you’re getting the absolute best price, there are a few different things to consider. CamelCamelCamel is a great resource for anyone trying to avoid being duped by all of those “low prices” out there. Though their website name makes very little sense, the application of their price tracking is quite useful. With this tool, you can actually track price histories and see whether or not the product has been at a lower price point in the past — meaning it will probably drop further in the future.

It’s also important to note that Amazon isn’t the only online retailer participating in the summer savings. Make sure you compare prices from Best Buy, Walmart, and Jet prior to making a purchase. Chances are pretty good these companies will have similar price points, but occasionally you’ll get lucky and find something for much cheaper than you expected.

Where can you find the best Prime Day coverage?

Being the retail phenomenon it is, you’re likely to see quite a bit of Prime Day coverage out in the wild. It can be hard to figure out where to go to make sure you don’t miss the best possible discounts on the day of, so here is a quick tip to help you out: Avoid using any sites that are dedicated strictly to “deals”. These particular sources often lack the expertise of dedicated product experts and focus instead on percentage off.

If you’re looking for the very best Amazon Prime Day deals, look no further than Digital Trends — though we may be a little biased in that opinion. Our primary focus will be on quality tech and electronics, but we will also be featuring a wide variety of products that pique the interest of our editors. Our team will be working tirelessly to update the Prime Day deals page with only the latest and greatest savings so you don’t have to find them yourself.

Can you shop on Prime Day if you aren’t a Prime Member?

The short answer is no, but there are definitely ways around it. If you’ve never signed up for Amazon Prime before, you can get a free one-month Amazon Prime trial. This 30-day free trial comes with everything you’d expect from the subscription, including the bulk of the site’s streaming options and access to Prime Day deals. And if you’re still a student, and meet the same criteria, you can get a six-month free trial to get you started. If you are going to use the free-trial method, just make sure you start it sometime in late June to ensure it doesn’t run out before the big day.

It should also be noted that Amazon will usually offer discounted Prime subscriptions as a lead-in to Prime Day. So if you have already used your free trial, you should be able to get access to Prime for a lot less just by waiting for the discount.

Looking for awesome savings? Find tech deals and more from our curated deals page, or follow us on Twitter for daily updates.

Updated on July 9: Added news of the Echo Show’s $100 discount through Prime Day. 

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