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Amazon Shopping Guide
Founded in 1994 as “Cadabra” and later renamed “Amazon” after the longest river in the world, Amazon, Inc. is now the largest online retailer in America and sells to countries all over the world. Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, Washington and it has designated websites for the US, Mexico, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, China, Australia, and India.
The company sells millions of its own digital and physical products, but it also serves as an online marketplace for smaller, independent sellers to participate in. Amazon is best known for their massive collection of e-books and its Kindle and Fire reading devices, but the company sells countless other items across several departments (read more about each department down below).
Navigating Amazon’s Site
Amazon.com looks a little complicated and overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes of exploring, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s a search bar right in the middle of the homepage, and when you type in a word, Amazon will auto-fill the search bar with many different items to guess what you’re searching for.
If you have an Amazon account already, then when you visit Amazon’s homepage, you’ll see several products recommended to you based on your previous browsing and buying habits. There is also a revolving banner of current deals and product news just beneath the search bar.
Departments on Amazon.com
Amazon initially started with books and other smaller products, but over the years, it has expanded to many new departments including movie and TV show streaming, mp3 downloads, apps for Android devices, and more.
Looking for new toys and gifts for the kids for the holidays? You’ll find thousands of different new and used items on Amazon to keep them entertained for months to come. Or maybe you’re trying to find a health and beauty item online since it’s not available locally? Amazon is a great place to start looking. Whether you need more sports accessories for your kid’s team, a new laptop for back-to-school season, handmade items to decorate your home or textbooks for your college classes, Amazon has millions of items for sale throughout their departments, usually at cheaper prices than you’ll find offline.
The Kindle Store
The Amazon Kindle Store sells over 4.3 million e-books and 1 million “short reads.” These can be read on wifi-enabled Kindle or Fire tablets (both sold by Amazon, with prices starting at $49.99), or through the Amazon Kindle app on both Android and Apple devices.
If you want to try Kindle Unlimited, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial, giving you access to thousands of audiobooks and over 1 million ebooks for unlimited reading. After the trial ends, Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month (but helps voracious readers save money on books overall).
Amazon sells nearly every genre of book, magazine, and newspapers in the Kindle Store, as well as their physical book sales department. There are several lists to help you find new reads: Monthly Deals for $3.99 or Less, Kindle Daily Deals (up to 80% off the cover price), Amazon Best Sellers, New York Times’ Best Sellers, Free Ebooks, Top 100 Lists and more.
Looking for new fun chick lit to read on the beach this summer? Amazon has over 7,400 chick lit titles in the Kindle Store alone. Or maybe your kid is a comic book fan, and you need some birthday gift ideas? Amazon has over 109,000 comic books and graphic novels in the Kindle Store. No matter what genre, Amazon has you covered, and with their textbook buy-back program, Amazon is a preferred seller among college students looking to save money.
Amazon offers “Deals of the Day”, lightning deals (limited time, limited quantities), and limited-time deals every single day. There are up to 2,000 deals at a time, with discounts ranging from 10% to 70% off the retail value. Items come from many different departments, including toys and hobbies, electronics, books, and more.
Amazon Prime originally started in 2005 as a way to offer extra services to members, for an added price. Today, over 54,000,000 people are Amazon Prime members, paying $99 per year for Prime membership.
As a Prime member, you get free, 2-day shipping on all eligible orders (sold and fulfilled by Amazon), free streaming of movies and TV shows, unlimited photo storage, early access to deals offered on Amazon.com, and free reads on select ebook titles in the Kindle Store each month.
You have the option to try a 30-day free trial of Prime if you haven’t signed up before. Current students with valid email addresses (.edu) can also get six months of free Prime benefits (including free 2-day shipping), then once the 6-month trial ends, you have the option to sign up for a 50% discounted Prime membership.
Amazon Credit Cards
Amazon has two different branded credit cards, each with their unique benefits. The Amazon.com Store Card offers special financing options for Amazon purchases, and the Amazon.com Rewards Card offers cardholders 3% back on Amazon purchases. These points can be used for future Amazon purchases, allowing you to save as much money as possible if you’re a regular shopper on Amazon.
Amazon also offers a Corporate Credit Line for business purchases.
When You’re Ready to Checkout
If you’ve filled your cart and you’re ready to order, you’ll either need to log into your current Amazon account or sign up, if you’re a new customer. During the checkout phase, you’ll enter a shipping address (or select an Amazon Locker location for local pick-up) and then enter your payment information (Amazon accepts most major credit cards).
You also have the option to apply credit card points (not just from Amazon credit cards) in a box to the right of your shipping address. Below the points box, you have the option to enter a gift card code or promo code for additional discounts. All you have to do is type in the codes then click “Apply.” In some states, a sales tax will apply; otherwise, the only additional charge you may face is shipping.
Amazon Customer Service & Social Media
If you have any questions about a product, your order, payment, or nearly anything else you can think of, Amazon’s customer service team is there to help. They have live chat options, as well as telephone support (you enter your number, and they call you), and email (they’ll email you after you fill out a brief online form).