Will Amazon Prime Day for 2016 Live Up to Its Billing?

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With Amazon Prime Day taking place on July 11, the big question is whether the subscriber-only event will be a bigger, better shopping experience for consumers this time around? A year ago, the online retailer claimed record sales, but it took a shellacking for what many Amazon Prime shoppers perceived as a poor selection of products and lackluster deals. (Twitter users posted photos likening it to a bad garage sale.)

But Amazon is promising a better assortment and deeper inventories in 2016. This time, it says, there will be more than 100,000 items available worldwide, making this Amazon’s biggest sales promotion ever. One of the biggest draws here in the U.S. will likely be the TV deals, which Amazon claims offer twice the supply of sets available last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

To participate in the sales event, you need an active Amazon Prime membership, which gets you free two-day shipping and access to Amazon Prime streaming video and music services. But you can get in on the shopping action using a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial.

Early Countdown Deals

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If you just can't wait until next Tuesday to start shopping, Amazon is running daily "countdown" deals on summer travel items, portable gadgets, and back-to-school products, such as laptops and tablets. One enticing electronics deal we spotted was a 32-inch TV bundled with a Fire TV Stick for $120, which sold out quickly on Wednesday.

A quick look at the offerings the morning of July 8 revealed these specials:

• The Amazon Tap available to Alexa shoppers for $79, a $50 savings.

• An Altec Lansing Grey Life Jacket 2 Bluetooth wireless speaker for $80. It's selling for $115 to $120 elsewhere.

• A Polaroid Cube HD 1080p lifestyle action cam for $65. It's priced at $100 at several retailers right now.

• A Crosley CR8005C-CL Cruiser II portable battery-powered three-speed turntable for $60. It's $90 at Jet.com.

Just remember that you need to check frequently to find new deals, which are only available while supplies last.

Prime Day Shopping Tips

To get the best deals, you've got to know where to look. The "Spotlight" deals, for example, focus on major brands, which means supplies often run out quickly. "Lightning Deals" are only around for a short time. But "Prime Savings" and "Prime Deals" typically run all day. You can find them all on the Prime Day Deals page—just click the "see details" button to find the discount amount, which is applied during checkout.

To keep up with all the options, it's helpful to download the Amazon shopping app. It lets you track and sort deals by product category. Once you review the upcoming offers, you can add the ones you want to your wish list and get notified when the deals kick off. You can also sign up to be on a wait list if an item you missed out on suddenly reappears from an abandoned shopping cart.

Social media is another good way to get a jump on the deals. If you friend the Amazon Prime Day page on Facebook, you'll get early notifications, as well as some Facebook-only specials. And Amazon's Twitter feed will offer alerts.

If you own an Amazon Echo, Dot, or Tap, you can use the Alexa voice-powered digital assistant to order Prime Day specials, including some Alexa-exclusive deals. Prime members who do so will also get $10 off their first eligible purchase over $20.

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