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How to Shop on Amazon Prime Day, According to Strategist Editors

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Editors

This conversation initially appeared in our email newsletter, but we wanted to share it with all of our readers on the site so you can also prep for Amazon Prime Day, which is happening next week. Strategist editor Maxine Builder, deals editor Sam Daly, and managing editor Kelsie Schrader got together to talk about what to look for this Prime Day and how to find the absolute best Strategist-scouted deals, because they’re not all created equal. (And don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter if you want more behind the scenes insights like this — as well as real-time reminders about our Prime Day coverage on Tuesday, July 11 and Wednesday, July 12.)

Maxine Builder: I think a good place to start this conversation is with our plans for covering Prime Day. So, Kelsie, do you want to break down how we figure out what’s worth writing about?

Kelsie Schrader: We began planning in May. We did a deep dive into last year’s trends, both on the site and in the world at large, asking, when are people shopping? How much are they going to spend? What kinds of things are they looking for? There are some posts that we’ll always do every Prime Day, like our roundup of all the best deals or everything we’ve written about before. But this year, for example, we noticed that people were shopping for lower-priced items — and even at the end of last year — because of the economy. So we adjusted our editorial plan to cater to that, and we’re doing a roundup of deals that are under a certain dollar amount, which is new for this year.

M.B.: And Sam, I want to know from you, as someone who’s writing about deals every single day: What sort of deal is good enough to make it into one of your roundups?

Sam Daly: We obviously want to feature as many Strategist stood-behind products as we can. But we also want to feature deals that are actually good! If something is just 5 to 10 percent off, it’s probably not a great deal.

K.S.: Unless it’s never on sale.

M.B.: Like the Apple AirPods Max. They’re only 13 percent off right now, as part of Amazon’s early Prime Day deals — but that’s as good of a discount as we’ve ever seen, and the last time they were on sale was Black Friday. So I’d go for those.

S.D.: A tool that I love, and always tell my friends about (or anyone who will listen), is a site called Camelcamelcamel. You input Amazon links and it shows you a historical graph of prices.

K.S.: It’s free for anyone to use, and you can also set up price watches. So if there’s a product you’ve had your eye on, it’ll send you an email to let you know when it’s significantly discounted. We use it as one way to quantify if a product is truly on sale or if the price has just been inflated, then slashed.

M.B.: But if there’s one thing I’d like for our readers to know is how much of what we’re doing is just manual. We’re going through the site, digging through the deals, and highlighting what speaks to us and what we know will resonate with our readers. And really, there is just so much that it’s impossible for us to cover it all. For example, Amazon does lightning deals, which are deals that have an expiration time. There’s a limited supply, and you have a chance to get an exceptionally better-than-usual discount. But they usually run out of stock before the timer ends. There have been times when someone has shared a lightning deal on Slack with me, I click on it two minutes later, and it’s gone. So we don’t feature those on the site for that reason.

K.S.: It’s not a hack, but it’s a good tip-off to follow us on social if you want to be clued into a good lightning deal. And my other personal tip is that the daily essentials are often discounted. If it’s something that you’re going to buy anyway, it’s a good time to stock up and get 20 percent off teeth whiteners (which everyone did in 2021, I think).

M.B.: Totally. The unsexy stuff — the toothpaste, mouthwash, toilet paper — that’s the stuff that I regret not buying on sale.

S.D.: And though you’ll see a lot of sales at DTC retailers such as Brooklinen and Outdoor Voices, I think you’ll still get the best deal on an Amazon product on Prime Day. I have my eye on a Kindle, but it’s always fun to see what other retailers will be on sale, even at Amazon. During the Prime Day Early Access Sale in October, I was shocked to find the Leset pointelle tee I’d been coveting for months go on sale. So it’s those random finds that are always the most exciting to me.

M.B.: But the non-Amazon deals aren’t bad! We’ve been covering Prime Day at the Strategist since 2018 or so, and what’s been wild is how all-consuming it’s become. It’s no longer just deals at Amazon, though that’s obviously a big portion of what Prime Day is. It’s taken on the scale of Black Friday, where all these brands are trying to compete with Amazon, and doing their own non–Amazon Prime Day deals — that they’re not calling Prime Day, because they’re not Amazon. But they’re doing their own version of some big shopping moment, and there are enough that we do a stand-alone roundup of those non-Amazon deals.

S.D.: The scale of what we’re doing to cover it all is pretty massive too. We have team members across so many time zones — from London to Long Beach — who are just as passionate as us about sifting through everything to find actually good deals. What does Maxine call it? It’s kind of our Super Bowl. The chaos of Prime Day is kind of fun. I mean, it’s tough, but it’s so interesting to work on.

M.B.: And it all happens over two days, so even longer than the actual Super Bowl.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

How Strategist Editors Find the Best Prime Day Deals