A Quartz guide to smart Amazon shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Deals on deals on deals.
Deals on deals on deals.
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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The deals have already begun.

Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Week started on Nov. 16 and will run through to Black Friday itself on Nov. 23. Thousands of discounts across Amazon’s departments are already available and new ones will be added through the week, until Thanksgiving weekend. Then you get a two day break before Amazon’s Cyber Monday Deals Week starts on Nov. 26. That round of sales will go until Dec. 2.

Last year, Amazon purchases accounted for half of all online Black Friday sales, and Cyber Monday 2017 was Amazon’s biggest shopping day in history.Perhaps the demand for a good bargain on Amazon this year might distract from the recent backlash over HQ2.

With nine full days of sales left, Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks can be overwhelming to navigate. So, here’s a guide on how to approach them:

Where to find Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

Amazon lists all its Black Friday deals on its site and on its app. There are deals of the day, the ability to filter by department, a timer showing when each deal expires, and, when sale items are limited, a meter revealing how many have already been claimed.

When Cyber Monday Deals Week starts, all deals will be listed here.

Numerous other websites have also created comprehensive guides to Amazon’s deal weeks, including Techradar, Digital Trends, CNET, and Forbes.

Amazon will put its own products first

Many of Amazon’s discounts are reductions on items they are probably just trying to get rid of, and some of the best deals will be for Amazon-brand hardware. This includes substantial markdowns on items like Fire TV products and Echo devices.

While Amazon has an inventory of almost half a billion products, it’s worth noting that for some popular tech products—like the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Xbox One—other retailers like Kohl’s or Gamestop will offer comparable, if not better, discounts.

Amazon will have good deals on toys

Amazon is offering discounts of up to 40% off popular toys, including Mattel brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels, as well as many board games, most likely to fill the gap left by the collapse of Toys R Us. Amazon even started shipping its first ever toy catalogue to customers this November, showing that it’s moving in to stake a place in this industry.

Use the Amazon app to shop smarter

The Sneak Peek page on the Amazon app gives shoppers an early look at what products will be made available during Black Friday and Cyber Monday weeks, in addition to their current prices (sale prices are not disclosed yet). Enabling the “Watch a Deal” feature for a given item means that you’ll be updated when the deal on it is about to start. Using the app’s camera-search features could also amount to extra savings. For example, you can scan the barcode of any product in a brick-and-mortar store, and check if Amazon sells it. The app also has an augmented reality feature that lets customers virtually place hundreds of thousands in their homes to see what they might look like. You can make purchases directly through both these features, and save $5 if you.

Ordering via an Amazon device will generate additional savings

Like in previous years and for Prime Day, during the 2018 holiday season, you can gain access to early deals and deeper discounts by voice shopping using Alexa on Echo devices. The early-access Black Friday deals exclusive to Alexa users are here, and for Cyber Monday, early voice-shopping deals begin at 5pm PST on Nov. 26. All of the Alexa-specific deals are exclusively for Prime members.

Amazon Prime members still have an edge

Prime members get free two-day shipping whereas the free shipping for non-members will typically take longer, so it might be worth signing up for a 30-day free Prime trial this week or next. What’s more, Prime members get exclusive access to Lightning Deals, available for only limited periods of time.

If you’re a Prime member, you can also get extra discounts and rewards by agreeing to free “no-rush” shipping include. It can get you eBook credits and discounts on everything from groceries to Amazon video rentals.

Don’t forget to raise funds for charities while you shop

If you shop through, Amazon will donate a small portion of what you spend on eligible AmazonSmile products to a charity of your choice.

Remember to take a step back from Amazon and holiday shopping

Amazon commissioned a survey that found 61% of US holiday shoppers enjoy the thrill-of-the-hunt aspect of finding a good holiday deal, but that doesn’t mean you should just buy things for the sake of it getting a good discount. It’s helpful to make a list in advance to avoid getting lost down a rabbit hole of online deals and succumbing to impulse shopping. And since research shows that experiences are actually more valuable to people than material goods, why not step away from the deals and plan your next adventure with loved ones instead?