Internet sales have been growing at an average rate of 15% for the past 5 years and exceeded the $300 Billion mark for the first time last year according to internetretailer.com. The largest online retailer Amazon, was responsible for 30% of those sales and net sales have grown around 20% on average for the last 3 years. Clearly Amazon is a dominate player in the online retail marketplace and has a long history of investing billions each year to keep the company at the forefront of the industry.
If you are like most people you have probably bought something on Amazon in the last several months. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your money while shopping on Amazon.
Shop like you do anywhere else – No frugal Amazonian should dive into a spending frenzy without thinking it through. Apply the same ideas to Amazon as you do when you walk into other stores. Yes, you may have the option to buy more products and get free shipping, but does it make sense? You may be someone who rarely shops online, so does an annual membership make sense? Don’t get swept away by the cool tricks and tips if they end up costing you more than you put in.
Freebook Sifter – What’s better than free ebooks? How about free ebooks all listed in one place? Check out this regularly updated website for listings on thousands of free Amazon ebooks.
Amazon Prime – If you DO regularly shop on Amazon, then it will probably be the most cost effective for you to buy the $99 Prime membership. Some perks for getting Prime include:
- Free 2-day shipping
- Free unlimited streaming of video, music or Prime TV
- Free unlimited photo storage
- Free access to Kindle Owner’s Lending Library
- Amazon Mom – discounts on diapers and baby products
- Amazon Student – only $49 for Prime if you’re a college student
- Prime Pantry – access to discount groceries and household items sold for a flat shipping rate of $5.99 per Prime Pantry box
Subscribe & Save – Order recurring essentials on Amazon like toilet paper, diapers and paper towels. Receive 15% off, PLUS the cheaper Prime rate, PLUS free shipping. Then do your happy dance because you're so savvy.
No-Rush Promotional Credit – I already mentioned the many perks of using Amazon Prime, but this hidden gem deserves its own spot because it's overlooked so easily. Sure, free 2-day shipping is great, but if you select “No-Rush” shipping, then you’ll receive promotional credit toward a future purchase. For example, you might receive $1 credit toward your next Kindle store purchase. Or $5 toward Prime Pantry. Free money? ::ahem:: Yes, please.
SnagShout reviews – If you’re looking for deep discounts on Amazon, check out SnagShout for 70%, 80%, 90% and occasionally 100% off select items, when you agree to leave a review. Yes, I said 100%. I just bought two sun shades that were 91% off. I paid $1 to keep the sun out of my children's eyes on road trips. I chose No-Rush shipping, and received $5 promotional credit toward Prime Pantry. So really, I MADE $4! You won’t be able to buy standard items like books, clothes or groceries, so this is where Tip #1 comes into play – use your head and shop smart.
CamelCamelCamel – Funny name. Genius idea. If you want to track an item, for example diapers, and wish to know when in the year it is cheapest, CamelCamelCamel will show you its price history. See below for an example of Pampers diapers:
Price Tracker app – If you want to go mobile and get alerts for your price tracking, download the Price Tracker for Amazon app (iPhone) or Amazing Price Tracker Platinum app (Android).
FillerItem – To get free shipping for non-Prime members, you have to buy $35 worth of merchandise. If your order runs just short of $35, you can visit FillerItem, type in the amount needed to bring your order to $35, then view the products suggested. For example, if you only needed $6.50, here is what your search results would look like (more options not pictured here):
Earn Amazon gift cards on Bing – The next time you search for a funny cat video or the show times for a new movie, use Bing's search engine to earn points toward an Amazon gift card. There are other places where you can earn gift cards, like Swagbucks, but if you're looking for less time-intensive method, Bing is very minimal. All you do is search, redeem your points, repeat.
Use Prime 30-Day trial for a special occasion – Here is a more controversial option that I have heard about recently. You sign up for the Amazon Prime free 30-day trial, do all your holiday shopping, then cancel your membership. Is it working the system? Is it just clever marketing on Amazon's part? I leave it to you to decide in the comments below.
Just don’t shop. – Some people just need to exercise the art of saying “No” more often. This may be the most obvious savings technique in the world, but it is also the most regularly ignored. For example: When I stop at a grocery store, $50 magically flies out of my wallet. “All I wanted was milk and eggs,” I exclaim as I drag eight grocery bags up my steps. So what would help me spend less at the store? Coordinate trips. Shop less often. Same goes for Amazon. Get some killer deals. But know when it’s time to stop.
What deals and steals have you found at Amazon? Please share in the comments below.
Laura Harris is a financial coach, freelance writer and mother of two. When she’s not on an adventure with her family or curled up on the couch with a book, you can find her blogging about personal finance at PiggyBankDreams.com