How much of a force is Amazon.com? Each month, more than 197 million people around the world get on their devices and visit the massive online retailer. In 2018, Amazon’s share of the U.S. e-commerce market hit 49%.
To put things in perspective, this is more than Amazon’s top three competitors combined, with eBay coming in at 6.6%, Apple at 3.9% and Walmart at 3.7%.
As a society, we’ve use Amazon so much it’s now a verb. When you need something, you just say, I’ll Prime it, and everyone knows that means you’re buying it on Amazon. And here are 10 hidden tricks every Amazon shopper needs to know.
1. Why is this delivered every month?
You've received an Amazon gift card that's not for a whole lot of money, but you plan on using it someday. "Someday" comes when your budget is a little tight and you need to buy some mundane items.
Stop right there because this is where it gets tricky. Everyday items are often automatically set up to be purchased as a subscription. Diapers are a great example.
We've all been conditioned to think the gold button means an item goes into our cart or that it's one-click buying. We've all made the mistake of not realizing we were actually setting up a subscription to get the product every month because Subscribe & Save is auto-selected.
When buying from Amazon, slow down and take a good look at the price box. If you only want it once, make sure to click "one-time purchase."
2. Returns can be tricky
Let's say you buy a sweater and it doesn't fit, so you decide to return it right away. That's easy — just click the Return or replace items button and follow the prompts.
If you return the product within the return window, shipping is sometimes free and you get a full refund or replacement. Or you can drop it off at a nearby Kohl's.
But life often gets in the way and you forget to return that sweater. A month or two goes by before you remember, but this time there are no buttons directing you on how to return or replace the product. The return window has closed.
Don't despair! Contact an Amazon customer service representative either by email, chat or phone. More often than not, unless a year has gone by or the product has been used extensively, Amazon will let you return it. You may be charged a shipping fee, but if you're polite you can talk your way out of it.
3. It may not always be worth it
If the return window has been closed for a long time you may not be refunded the full amount of the item. This is especially true if you purchased the product from a third-party vendor. So what are your options?
Your first step is to contact the seller to see if you can return the item with free shipping and a full refund or replacement.
If you don't get anywhere with the third-party, contact Amazon and let them know about the situation. Many times they can resolve the problem in a favorable manner.
At this point, you may be thinking this all sounds like a lot of work, especially if the item wasn't very expensive. Why not consider gifting the sweater? At least you'll save money on a birthday or Christmas present.
4. Approach with care
Always remember and never forget: Amazon is flooded with fake reviews. ReviewMeta analyzed 203 million Amazon reviews and found 11.3% of them to be untrustworthy. Of course, with Amazon being such a huge marketplace, unverified reviews may still sneak in. You'll find most fake reviews among no-name electronic products. If a product only has a few reviews and they are all five-star, steer toward a product with more reviews.
5. Deals to become a Primer
Amazon Prime has a lot of perks, but let's be honest, it is expensive. But remember, for about $155 a year you get free shipping, Amazon's streaming service, deals on products non-Primers don't have access to and much more.
Despite being a major conglomerate, Amazon is showing some heart. Students have long received some form of Prime discount. Currently, they get six-months free and then 50% off. Now, those with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) or Medicaid cards can get Prime — and all its bells and whistles — for $5.99 a month.
6. Let your teen shop
Your kids eventually get to that age where you no longer have any idea what kind of clothes, books or music they like. So just let them have their own accounts. Kind of. Under your account, your teen can set up his or her own sub-account so they can pick whatever they want. Don't worry, you have the final say before an order is placed. Simply confirm your teen's orders via text.
7. Find bargains on tech
Not everyone needs to get the latest smartphone or laptop in a pristine, unopened box. If a good deal is what's important to you, shop the Amazon Warehouse for discounted open-box and refurbished tech. Not all of the products are used, either. Some may have been display models or review items. And you can get great deals on Apple products with the peace of mind that only Apple-certified technicians can refurbish a device. Don't forget to take a look at Amazon's Outlet section for deals on overstocked items.
8. Avoid porch pirates
We've all seen videos of strangers and even neighbors sneaking onto front porches to snatch Amazon deliveries that have just been dropped off. You can avoid this by having your package delivered to a nearby Amazon Locker. Locations can be found when you select a shipping address during checkout or when you add a new address in Your Account.
Amazon's Locker service operates in more than 900 cities and towns across the nation. Customers can pick up their packages or even return them at these self-service kiosks. Keep in mind that if you use the Locker option you only have three calendar days to pick up your package. If you don't, it's returned to Amazon and you receive a full refund.
9. Ask and maybe you'll receive
You love the product, it's everything you expected — but it took a long time to be delivered. You might be able to shave a few dollars off the price for the inconvenience. Just contact customer support via phone, email or chat. Describe the problem and ask if you can get a few dollars back because it arrived so late. Hey, it never hurts to ask — especially if you ask politely.
10. No hurry at all
Unless you're the kind of person who waits until the last minute, most of the time an item you buy on Amazon doesn't need to be delivered the very next day — even if you are a Prime member. Prime members can take advantage of Amazon's Free No-Rush shipping and get instant discounts or earn rewards that can go toward future orders. Patience is indeed a virtue.
There was a time when the only really great thing about being an Amazon Prime member was the free shipping. Of course, Amazon Prime now has so many other things to offer, such as free streaming TV shows, movies and music, same-day delivery, all the books you can read downloaded to your device, special pricing and more.
A lot more.
Take a look at our list of the 7 things you should be doing with your Amazon Prime account. You just might be surprised.
Want more of Kim's tech favorites, including her helpful eBooks and digital solutions to frequently asked listener questions? Click or tap to shop Kim's top picks in her Amazon store.
Starting your own podcast is easy with the right tools. Kim has selected what you need to get started the right way. (And no, it won't cost you an arm and a leg.)
Amazon adds new privacy settings, but will they matter when Alexa is listening everywhere?
Amazon, just off its product introduction event high, is getting slammed by privacy advocates over one of its new devices. How Amazon has been using the reams of information it gathers from Alexa voice assistants has put the company in an unwanted spotlight.