Amazon Prime Day can be overwhelming. Here are 5 tips to navigate it

By Aimee Picchi

/ MoneyWatch

Amazon Prime members a new U.S. majority

Amazon Prime Day kicked off on Monday at 12 a.m. Pacific time, with the online retailer offering more than 1 million items on sale through Tuesday. While finding a good deal might not be hard, making sense of the event could be a challenge for some shoppers.

Before Amazon started Prime Day in 2015, the biggest shopping season was at the holidays, notes Marcel Hollerbach, chief marketing officer at Productsup, which helps merchants link their systems to Amazon and other online retailers. But, he says, now Prime Day has become a shopping event to rival the end-of-year holiday shopping season, with Amazon parlaying on a new consumer preference for "event shopping."

"That craziness we have twice a year now — at Christmas and at Prime Day," he says. "Retail is more like event shopping, or entertainment shopping, and Amazon is leveraging on this with their Lightning offers."

Lightning deals are limited-time offers that Amazon provides until a product is sold out on the site. They'll be featured during Prime Day, but aren't the only way that consumers can shop. The key to successfully navigating the sale depends on knowing what you want to buy plus using a handful of tips to track and find those items.

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"The big thing for everybody is to start your plan and think through how are you going to spend your day and getting the notifications you need," said Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal at Avionos, a digital marketing and strategy firm. "Prime Day falls on work days, so how are you going to keep track of what you need while not disrupting your work day?"

Neiweem, who started planning his strategy the week before Prime Day, said he's made a list of the items he needs, and will check prices on those items during the event. It's important to focus on what you need to avoid impulse purchases, he notes.

Below are 5 tech tools that can help you sort through the clutter.

Turn on your Amazon app notifications

Receiving notifications from Amazon's mobile app is a key technique for finding the deals you want. To do that, you'll need to download the app on your mobile phone and also turn on notifications in the app's main menu. You can find the main menu by looking for the three bars on the upper left-hand corner of the app.

Use Amazon's mobile app to "watch" items

Most shoppers may be focused on scrolling through sales on their computers, but Amazon's mobile app has a handy "watch" function.

This works by going to the "Today's Deals" link in the upper left corner of the app menu, then going to the "upcoming" tab. When you see a deal you want to watch, you can click on "watch this deal," and then Amazon will send you a notification when the sale begins. That's handy because you won't need to continuously check the site for sales.

Look at Amazon's "sneak peeks"

Amazon says it will alert consumers to "sneak peeks" deals — or early Prime Day deals that are shown only to mobile app users. Amazon says consumers should type "sneak peek" into the search bar of the app, and make sure their personalized notifications are turned on.

Install the browser extension for Amazon Assistant

Experts recommend adding the browser extension for Amazon Assistant, which will display an alert showing the number of Prime Day deals as well as a small window with top trending deals. It'll also alert you when you're on a competitor's site whether Amazon offers the same product for less.

Use price trackers outside of Amazon

Lastly, make sure you take a few minutes to check prices with non-Amazon sources.

"Just because something is on sale, doesn't mean it's a good deal," said Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot. "Use a price tracker like Keepa or Tracker to see how the price of the product has changed over time."

Others recommend CamelCamelCamel, another price tracking site. And don't forget to check prices at rival stores like Target and Walmart because many big retailers will be trying to lure consumers with prices that are as low or lower than Amazon, said

Stores like Target and Walmart "are trying to figure out how can they disrupt Amazon Prime Day," notes Neiweem.

First published on July 15, 2019 / 7:02 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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