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5 simple ways to prepare to save big during Amazon's Prime Day

Souce: Amazon

Set your Alexa reminders now: Amazon's annual Prime Day will run on July 15 and 16 this year.

Amazon's biggest sale of the year is getting even longer, with the company announcing on Tuesday that the annual event will be starting at midnight PST on Monday, July 15 and running across two days for the first time.

Prime Day, which started in 2015, promises Prime members access to exclusive discounts and products. It's so popular that 76% of Prime members in the U.S. are planning to shop on Prime Day this year, up from 63% last year, according to a new study from Profitero.

During the annual event, Amazon offers shoppers huge discounts, but many times only stocks a limited supply so items sell out fast or only offers the deal for a short time. But the savings are real. For example, Amazon already released an early deal: $120 off a Toshiba HD 43-Inch Fire TV Edition Smart TV. Plus, Amazon says those with Alexa-enabled devices will save even more this year.

"The annual shopping event is essentially Cyber Monday meets Black Friday meets Boxing Day in the middle of July," Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot tells CNBC Make It. "Shoppers who are Prime members can shop from the comfort of their own home and watch for advance alerts of discounts on popular products."

Much like Black Friday, Prime Day can be a bit chaotic, so it pays to be prepared. Here are five simple steps you can take right now to make sure you're ready to snag the deals you want.

1. Make sure your Prime membership is up-to-date

Prime Day is designed to be an event that highlights the benefits of its Prime membership, so in order to get access to the best deals, make sure you have one.

If you're not already a Prime member, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. After the trial expires, a membership costs $119 a year. If you're a student, Amazon offers a six-month trial period and half off a membership ($59 a year).

If your membership has lapsed, you can sign up for a one-month subscription for $12.99. If you don't have access to a free trial and you don't want to pay, check with family members who already have a Prime membership. Amazon lets you set up a Prime household with up to two adult members.

2. Get your Amazon app and Alexa devices ready to go

Like in previous years, customers will likely find the biggest discounts during Prime Day "Lightning Deals." These mini events offer huge savings on a limited quantity of name-brand items, so they sell out within minutes. But those who have the Amazon app get a huge advantage. App users will get a sneak peek at the deals a week in advance, according to RetailMeNot, making it a key tool for scoring the items you want.

Once you've scrolled through the preview, you can add items to your list and Amazon will send you an alert when they go on sale. Plus, those who are downloading the app for the first time will get $10 credit, RetailMeNot reports.

If there's a specific item that you're searching for and you don't see it on the previews, you can create your own wish list and Amazon will send you an alert if the product becomes part of a Prime Day deal.

Beyond the app, Amazon says that the biggest Prime Day deals will be available for those with Alexa-enabled devices, which includes the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Plus, Echo Input and Tap. If you've had one of these devices sitting in a box since the holidays, now is the time to dust it off and set it up.

3. Check early and often

Even if you've set up your Prime membership and app, you still may want to take a spin through the site a few times throughout the day on July 15 and 16, especially if you're aiming to score a deal on a big item like a TV or a Nintendo Switch.

If you see a great discount, Skirboll says don't wait. "Take advantage because they won't be available for long," she says.

Electronics are expected to be among the most sought-after items again this year. Of those planning to take part in Prime Day, 71% say they plan to shop for electronics, according to Profitero. In the past, Amazon has offered deep discounts on its own products, including the home speakers Echo and Alexa, as well as the Kindle and Fire tablets. Skirboll says she wouldn't be surprised to see sales on the Fire TV, Cloud Cam and Blink as well.

In addition to electronics, 53% of U.S. Prime members say they plan to buy clothing and 56% are eyeing home goods. And Amazon aims to deliver. In the announcement Tuesday, Amazon says beyond the deals on electronics, it will unveil exclusive clothing and home collaborations with actors, musicians, athletes and top brands during Prime Day. For example, the company announced it will have a special-edition electric bike from Schwinn and two dozen new JoJo Siwa products from Nickelodeon.

4. Familiarize yourself with brands and prices

If you're shopping for a specific item during Amazon's Prime Day, it can help to do a little homework ahead of time. RetailMeNot recommends downloading the Tracker app (free for iOS and Android) to monitor prices and availability of the more popular electronics and toys.

You can plug in the product you're interested in and the app will send you an alert on which online retailers have the item in stock, including on Amazon. If you do this ahead of Prime Day, you'll know what the current price is before any discounts and whether a sale price is a good deal or not.

You may be able to find better deals if you're flexible about the brand. The browser extension Amazon Assistant gives shoppers a look at related products on Amazon.com and many times, there will be a similar product offered by a different brand on sale.

And once Prime Day is full-swing, don't slack off on price comparisons. "Just because it's Prime Day and Amazon has something on sale, that doesn't mean it's necessarily the best deal out there," Skirboll says. To ensure you're getting the absolute lowest price, make sure you take a few seconds to check prices elsewhere.

"If you see a markdown and you're not sure if it's a good deal, do your research and price compare," Skirboll says.

5. Don't just limit yourself to Amazon

Amazon's Prime Day is not the only sale event taking place the week of July 15. RetailMeNot predicts that 250 retailers will be offering deals on Prime Day and throughout the week, up 30% from the number of retailers who participated last year. Nordstrom, for example, has already announced a two-week anniversary sale that will start on July 19.

"As Prime Day has gained more and more traction and massive success over a few short years, it has had a ripple effect with many other retailers jumping in on the shopping buzz and offering competing sales this time of year," Skirboll says.

It has turned into what some have called "Black Friday in July." There are plenty of deals to be had from other retailers, Skirboll says, adding that some will be offering their biggest sales of the summer. Target, Macy's and JCPenney have all run sales in the past during the week of Amazon Prime Day, according to shopping site Brad's Deals.

"This event gets bigger every year as Prime Day increasingly establishes itself as the definitive summer version of Black Friday — and 2019 will not disappoint," writes Rebecca Lehmann of Brad's Deals.

Check out: Don't make these 6 common mistakes and do Amazon Prime Day right

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Why I don’t plan on shopping at Amazon’s newest brick and mortar store again
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