Perhaps it’s no surprise we’ve been shopping online a lot more since the start of the pandemic.
In its latest quarterly earnings report, Amazon announced it had increased its net income by more than 48% in the second quarter (April to June 2021), compared with the same period last year, while total revenue rose about 27%.
What’s more, Amazon shoppers spent nearly $11.2 billion on Amazon sites during the company’s two-day Prime Day, which took place on June 21 and June 22 (and not all countries partook in Prime Day this year, including Canada).
While brick-and-mortar stores are hoping to rebound this fall, the benefits of online shopping remain clear: you can shop 24/7 in the comfort of your pajamas; you don’t have to fight traffic to drive to the mall and circle the parking lot; it’s easy to compare prices between multiple online retailers; and products are shipped right to your door.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re an Amazon customer, but you might not be getting the most out of the country’s biggest online retailer.
And so, take heed to these following tips and tricks – including some lesser-known ways – to ordering faster, saving more, getting faster shipping, and more.
Prime it up
First, an obvious one.
While many suffer from “subscription fatigue” – paying for internet, TV, mobile phone, video streaming services, a fitness membership, satellite radio, and so on – you’ll likely never complain about Amazon Prime.
For $119/year for an annual Prime membership (after a 30-day free trial) and $59/year for an annual student membership, an Amazon Prime membership gives you a handful of advantages.
The big one is free express delivery on millions of items, many of which may arrive the same day (or even within 2 hours for groceries). You’ll also get early exclusive access to some deals before non-Prime shoppers.
Other benefits include access to Amazon Prime Video (movies and TV shows), millions of ad-free songs with Prime Music, free Kindle e-books and magazines, unlimited photo back-up (in full resolution), and, through Prime Gaming, free games and in-game content, Twitch access, and other goodies.
Pro tip: Reviewed.com, a USA TODAY company, has also shared some tips to scoring Amazon Prime for less.
Yep, while many shoppers aren’t aware of it, Amazon has a coupons section.
You can search by keyword or browse by category: Grocery, Pets, Health & Personal Care, Electronics, Toys & Baby, Home & Kitchen, Lawn & Garden and Fashion.
It may not be a lot – such as saving $2 on a box of dishwasher pods or 10% off LED light strips – but why pay more than you need it? It’s definitely worth your while to see what digital coupons are here before you buy. Click the deal to apply it to your purchase.
Be aware some coupons may only be available to Amazon Prime customers.
Plus, Amazon.com also has a Deals tab, featuring daily specials, for new, used, or open box products. All the departments are listed along the left-hand side (such as Beautyand Electronics), including the option to select a price window (like “Under $25” or “$25 to $50”) or percentage of the discount (“10% Off or More,” “25% Off or More” and so on).
Customize your search
As you likely know, Amazon has (quite literally) millions of products, and so a generic search for what you want may take a lot of time.
Unless, of course, you start narrowing down your search by taking advantage of the boxes you can tick along the left side of Amazon.com.
If you’re a member, always start by ticking off Prime so you know that you’ll get what you’re buying delivered as fast as possible (and for free).
Then keep narrowing things down.
Select products that have only received a high rating from shoppers (such as four or five stars), select the desired price window, and you can even select the brand you want.
If you’re buying an external hard drive for your laptop, for example, you can even specify how much storage you’re looking for, such as one terabyte opposed to four terabytes.
Get to know these left-side search options to whittle down what you’re looking for.
Just as you might shop at a thrift shop or second-hand store in person, Amazon, too, has a Warehouse section with great deals on quality used or refurbished products.
(In fact, there’s currently an Amazon Warehouse Back to School sale, with up to 20% )
Here you can shop for millions of pre-owned and open-box items, including used computers and tablets, home and kitchen items, unlocked mobile phones and “previously enjoyed” televisions.
Even though you’re buying a discounted Amazon Warehouse product, many items qualify for Prime or free shipping.
But caveat emptor: these items generally do not come with a manufacturer’s warranty, but all are backed by Amazon’s liberal return policy.
Maybe wait for Prime Day
Usually held once a year, Amazon Prime Day is a two-day sales event where you can score great deals on several Amazon products (like Echo smart speakers and Kindle e-readers), as well as those from other companies.
Robotic vacuums, coffeemakers and teeth-whitening strips were some of the top-selling products this past June.
Hey, you know Prime Day is a big deal when the company hired three Grammy winners to perform: superstar Billie Eilish, H.E.R. and rapper Kid Cudi.
If you don’t want to wait for Prime Day, you can see what products are trending. Search for the hashtag #FoundItOnAmazon on social media sites, like Instagram and Twitter, and it may lead to the dedicated Amazon page “to browse and buy stylish brand and influencer finds, all in one place.”
Tens of millions of Americans own an Amazon smart speaker, such as the Echo Dot ($69), but did you know you can shop on Amazon by using your voice?
Say “Alexa, order [product name],” “Alexa, add [product name] to my basket” (to complete the order later), or “Alexa, re-order [product name]” and your trusty personal assistant will walk you through the process.
You can also say something like “Alexa, what are my deals?” (to hear about sales), “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” (for order tracking info), or “Alexa, add [product name] to my shopping list” (which you can access in the Alexa app).
If you like, you can set up a confirmation code in your smartphone’s Alexa app to prevent anyone from abusing the purchase-by-voice feature.
Install a browser extension
While not exclusive to Amazon, be sure to have a reputable browser extension, like Honey, to save money on purchases.
These tools keep an eye on what you’re about to purchase and tell you if the store you’re on has the best deal compared to other sites – before you buy – or if there’s a promo code or coupon you can apply before you check out.
Honey says users save an average of$126 a year, and with an average discount of 17.9% (based on the company’s internal 2020 data).
To get going, click to add Honey to your favorite web browser – be it Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox or Opera – and shop online like you normally would.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at https://marcsaltzman.com/podcasts. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amazon shopping tips: Save coupons, warehouse deals, Alexa