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It's official: Amazon Prime Day starts July 16

The fourth-annual sale will offer over 1 million deals worldwide.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon's annual Prime Day sale will be back in two weeks and include more deals, come to more countries and last longer than in past years. Plus, the company is giving away a new Lexus.

The sale will kick off on Monday, July 16, at noon Pacific and go on for 36 hours, up from 30 hours last year. Australia, Singapore, Netherlands and Luxembourg will join in on Prime Day for the first time, along with the US, UK, Spain, Mexico, Japan, India, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium and Austria.

Prime Day will include more than 1 million deals worldwide, an increase from "hundreds of thousands" of deals last year and over 100,000 the year before. Those deal will include twice as many Amazon device sales.

A handful of sales are already starting today, including a $100 discount on the Echo Show smart speaker and four months of Amazon Music Unlimited for 99 cents.

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"We anticipate strong response and we prepared accordingly," Jamil Ghani, vice president of Prime international, said in an interview.

Now in its fourth year, Prime Day has become a buzzy sales event the e-commerce giant can use to pump up revenue during the typically slow summer season. For the past two years running, Amazon broke its single-day sales record on Prime Day -- though for the fast-growing retailer that record is usually shattered yet again on Black Friday or Cyber Monday later in the year. The sale is also a useful way to convince people to join Prime, which now has more than 100 million members globally, and buy Amazon devices to go deeper into the company's ecosystem of products and services.

But, with Amazon in April deciding to raise the annual cost of Prime in the US, its largest market, to $119 from $99, the company will have to work harder to draw in new customers.

"We have continued to see very healthy growth in Prime membership," Ghani said, adding that the company is focused on providing value for that membership price and "we feel that we do that handily."

To entice new buyers and keep current members coming back, Amazon is introducing a handful of new features to this year's event. Prime Day will extend to Amazon's physical stores, with sales at Whole Foods and Amazon Books locations in the US. Also, some companies plan to use the sale to launch new or special-edition products, including Delta's voice-activated faucet and Coleman's RoadTrip LXE portable propane grill.

Starting today, Amazon is running the new Alexa Home-Smart-Home Sweepstakes. Customers can enter by asking the company's voice assistant questions about Prime Day, watching Alexa-related videos or downloading the Amazon app. The grand prize winner will get an Alexa-enabled 2019 Lexus ES.

In past years, Prime Day has faced a series of hiccups, including customer complaints that popular items sold out too quickly or that there weren't enough worthwhile deals. In 2016, a computer glitch prevented people from checking out their purchases online in the early hours of the sale.

To address those past issues, Ghani said Prime Day will include many more sales and more inventory of popular items -- though he added that he expects products will still sell out. On having Amazon running properly during the heightened demand, he added: "We feel prepared for what's to come."

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