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Amazon.com: Everything you need to know about buying and selling on Amazon

Updated on August 5, 2014

Amazon offers savings, free shipping, convenience and money making opportunities

Shopping on Amazon is both cost effective and convenient. It's great to be able to comparison shop and read reviews from others who have purchased those items. It's often cheaper and there are several options for fast and free shipping. All this from the comfort and convenience of your home. It's also a fantastic resource for selling products; get rid of old unwanted items or operate a home business and sell products in a larger quantity. This guide will highlight all the best reasons to use Amazon.com for both buying and selling to make money from home and save money too.

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As an overworked mother of two toddlers, Amazon has been an absolute godsend. I like to comparison shop to ensure I'm getting the nicest product for the best price. I absolutely hate having to go from store to store shopping with my children taking them in and out of their car seats. I would just buy the first thing I saw if I had to buy in stores. Online shopping in general is so convenient for any busy person, but particularly parents of small children.

I also love the reviews on Amazon.com. A product might look compelling or seem like a good deal, but if it doesn't hold up or work as promised it saves a lot of time and aggravation to know that before purchasing. I rely so heavily on reviews that I will actually check Amazon reviews on my smart phone prior to making a purchase in store.

If ordering online meant I'd have to wait days or weeks for my purchases I probably wouldn't do it very often. However Amazon has the fastest order fulfillment and shipping I have ever seen. It's hard to comprehend how they even do it. I use two day shipping (free for prime members) and I typically receive my package the next day. Oftentimes I do my shopping in the evening once my children are in bed. I'll literally have my purchases before lunchtime the following morning. It's nothing short of amazing.

The prices on Amazon.com are typically very competitive. Occasionally I'll see that a product costs more on Amazon than in stores but 9 times out of 10 it's the opposite. Sometimes it's significantly cheaper than what you can get in stores. Plus you don't have to pay sales tax on items purchased through Amazon which in my area is a 10% savings right off the bat.

Update: As of 1/1/13 Amazon is required to charge sales tax on some items depending on where the item is coming from/going to. I've found that most of my purchases are still sales tax free but I am occasionally charged sales tax.

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Get Free Shipping with Amazon Prime

Free Two-Day Shipping and more

Amazon Prime is a program that makes tons of sense for frequent buyers on Amazon. It offers free two-day shipping. The shipping is so fast it's ridiculous. The annual cost for prime membership is $79/year. You can sign up for a free trial and see if you'll use it enough to warrant the expense. I know for me personally it's a no-brainer.

The free two-day shipping is the biggest feature however there are two more great benefits of the Prime program. These include:

Instant commercial free streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows

Kindle owners can borrow a free book every month from the Kindle library. These have no due dates

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Amazon Mom

Not just for Moms

Amazon Mom is designed for parents and caretakers of small children. It's a free program that offers money saving benefits. These benefits include:

3 Months of Prime shipping benefits which can be extended with qualifying purchases up to a year

20% off diapers and wipes that you purchase on a Subscribe and Save basis. (They automatically mail you an order based on the time period you select. The normal subscribe and save discount is only 5%)

Emails about discounts and promotions

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Amazon Student

Amazon student is similar to the Amazon Mom program however is obviously for students. It includes Amazon Prime shipping benefits for 6 months, special deals and promotions available only to students and free release date delivery on video games, DVD's, books and more. You need a valid .edu email address to sign up.

Amazon Gold Box Deals

Deal of the Day and Lightning Deals

Amazon offers special deals everyday called Gold Box deals. This includes both the Deal of the Day as well as Lighting Deals.

The Deal of the Day is one special offer available all day however it's subject to availability. It's rare but sometimes they do sell out. You can sign up to get a daily email from Amazon with the current daily deal special.

Lightning Deals are available throughout the day for a limited amount of time. When one deal closes another begins. You don't know what will come next but they do offer hints as to what it might be. So if you see something you want act fast because it may sell out before the time even runs out.

These deals are great year round but during Christmas time I love it even more. They'll run multiple lightning deals simultaneously. Sometimes you know what's coming up and other items just have a hint. These are fantastic deals for really popular products that are sure to be on your Christmas wish lists. It's essentially like a door buster deal without having to leave the house. The deals have really stretched how much and what types of presents I can give. Last year I bought an Ipod Touch for about half off! The price was cheaper than what Apple employees can buy them for (I know because my brother works for Apple). The key to these sales is they go incredibly fast. The really hot items will sell out in a matter of seconds so you have to be waiting for the item to go live and click add to cart ninja fast. I have fun doing it and it has saved me a ton of money.

Tip: I've made money buying products year round buying on Amazon deals and then selling those products on eBay. However all deals are limited to one type per customer so it's not something you can sell in any quantity.

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Amazon Vine Program

Product Reviews=Free Stuff!

If you're someone who enjoys reviewing products the Amazon Vine Program is a goal to strive towards by making a lot of high quality product reviews on Amazon. It's an invitation only program that is worth it's weight in gold if you get that invite. It gives reviewers free products (usually new or pre-release items). They only ask that you use the product and then write an honest review. You can get some really cool and expensive free stuff. Some of the criteria that the program looks for in reviewers that they choose to invite include:

How often others vote that your reviews were helpful

Quality of reviews

How many reviews you've written

Length of reviews (two sentence product reviews probably aren't going to cut it)

The types of products you review

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Amazon Price Tracker Website

Many people aren't aware of this but prices change on Amazon constantly. If you leave items in your cart, often when you come back at a later time you'll have several notices that prices have changed on multiple items. If there's something you want to purchase and you don't need it in a hurry, tracking the price can help save some money. Check the Amazon price tracker website which can pull up the history of the price of an item. It will tell you if it's at a good place right now or if it's recently gone up. If it just went up it will likely come back down if you can wait a little while.

Returns made easy on Amazon.com

You can return most items within 30 days for a full refund. They may however charge you return shipping depending on the reason for return. If it's their mistake or something is wrong with the item it will definitely be free shipping. Certain items for instance a lot of things in the baby department qualify for free return shipping even if you just changed your mind. You can initiate a return online and print the return label right from your computer. Amazon will set up to have UPS pick the item up at your front door. I've actually had smaller items I wanted to return and the system said it would credit me my money back but I did not even need to send back the item! You can't get better service than that.

Even if you're past their 30 day window for returns they might still be willing to help you. Though you won't be able to process the return online if you call their customer service (which is some of the best customer services I've ever experienced), they will typically help you regardless of the timeframe. I just recently had a shredder break that I had bought 4 or 5 months ago. But I called because I spent $150 for the upgraded unit and felt I should have gotten more time out of it. They returned it for a full refund and I did not even have to pay return shipping. I then ordered a new model which was a third the cost.

Amazon selling experience

Have you ever sold an item on Amazon?

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Individual vs Professional Seller on Amazon

Amazon offers two different programs for selling on their site. The program you pick will determine in part how you pay your fee to Amazon. While Amazon is not free to sell on it is free to list. Plus it provides exposure to a massive amount of eyes and potential sales that you wouldn't have had otherwise and it's possible to make very good money selling on Amazon.

Individual Seller

If you think you'll sell less than 40 items per month or you're really just trying to get rid of old unwanted items like used books then you'll want to sell as an Individual Seller. The reason for this is there is no monthly subscription fee. Amazon does however charge a $0.99 per item fee on this program. The nice thing is it doesn't cost a penny to you unless your item sells so there's no risk to list.

Professional Seller

If you're selling on Amazon more as a business and estimate that you'll have more than 40 sales per month then you should sell on Amazon as a Professional Seller. This program does not charge a listing fee either though it does charge a monthly subscription fee of $39.99. However the $0.99 per item fee is waived so after 41 sales you'd be further ahead. Plus professional sellers have the option of offering gift wrap as an up-charge to customers whereas individual sellers do not.

Both programs will also charge a referral fee (commission) which varies based on the category of the item sold. This fee ranges from about 6-25%. Additionally items sold in the book, music, computer software and games, video & DVD, and video game console categories will also be charged an 8-15% variable closing fee.

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How to Sell on Amazon Video

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Have is your favorite benefit of shopping on Amazon?

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Please share your online shopping experiences on Amazon or elsewhere

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    • sha-ron profile image

      sha-ron 3 years ago

      Very helpful information. thanks

    • DrLibby profile image

      DrLibby 4 years ago

      did not know about amazon vine program until now. I hope I get selected for it. thanks for lens

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      Thanks Melissa, I learned some new things about Amazon today!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Great info! This has so many valuable tips.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      I knew I was hard core when I started buying milk on Amazon. (Really, they can ship organic milk in shelf stable boxes - keeps me from going to the store to buy one gallon of milk and ending up spending a hundred dollars.) I am an Amazon affiliate, as well as seller - it is easy to list. Not making a fortune, but the extra cash comes in handy and you don't have to pay any fees until you sell. I wish I could get the invitation for the Amazon Vine program. I noticed also that Amazon has started in with local deals like Groupon. Pinned to my board "Cool Ways to make Money."

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      thanks for the guidance. an informative lens.

    • geosum profile image

      geosum 4 years ago

      I love shopping on Amazon - especially free shipping. Nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wow! This page is gonna be of use to a few of my friends! :)

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      Learned some things I didn't know - thanks!

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 4 years ago

      I didn't know about Amazon Mom, Vine or Student...the Student deals will come in handy when my daughter starts college in a year.

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 4 years ago

      I have an e-book listed on Amazon (I also have a squidoo page for my novel). It's selling slowly but I'm learning the promotional side of writing at a pretty fast pace. Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Love shopping Amazon - perfect for those of us who at a distance from brick and mortar stores.

    • paulgrossman profile image

      paulgrossman 4 years ago

      I do almost all of my shopping on Amazon. I basically use brick and mortar stores to check out products and prices and almost every time, I will find a much better deal on Amazon. I know retailers don't want to read this, but I'm not the only one doing it! :) Great lens with some good insights!

    • profile image

      aussiejon 4 years ago

      Great guide, a lot of good tips for new and experienced amazon affiliates.

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 5 years ago

      I didn't know about the price tracker or that you could also sell on Amazon, so this was very informative.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Even if I don't buy from Amazon I almost always refer to it for comparative shopping purposes. Extremely helpful lens.

    • vinodkpillai lm profile image

      vinodkpillai lm 5 years ago

      I have done some online shopping and found it to be a good experience but I have never tried Amazon. This lens gave me all the info and more! Thanks for a great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. Thank you for sharing this information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the Super Saver Shipping Option when available, from my experience, it's just as fast and at time costs less than the item with Shipping Cost without the "Super" option!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love Amazon but it is too bad that lot of sellers decide that the won't shipp to Slovenia. very interesting and educational lens, thank you.

    • profile image

      tomaztt 5 years ago

      interesting

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 5 years ago from New York

      Great tips. I love Amazon. I love being an affiliate and I love being a customer. They also have a great return policy. If you are a prime member it is even easier. *Squid Angel Blessed*

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      As family, we bought some stuff from Amazon, we're happy with all of our transactions. I never thought of selling thru Amazon though. Thanks!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I hope I'll start selling our books on Amazon next year, but for starter there will be only e-books. Thanks for useful info.

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 5 years ago

      I not only purchase on Amazon, but I am also an Amazon affiliate, and the internet company I run sells products through Amazon as well. It is a great place to find almost anything you are looking for. Great lens! Blessed

    • profile image

      PAVION 5 years ago

      The only bad thing about Amazon is they are so good I feel guilty not bumping into people at Christmas buying stuff. I order what I want, it comes to the door. Wah-lah.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Phoenix2361: Thank you! Me too, I feel like I save a ton over any given year from shopping on Amazon.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @anonymous: I totally agree!

    • Phoenix2361 profile image

      Phoenix2361 5 years ago

      Amazon is awesome. I can find better deals on stuff I can't find anywhere else. Great lens btw.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love online shopping - it's easier and cheaper.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @flycatcherrr: Thank you! I'm a little sad to graduate though:)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Congrats on your RocketSquid graduation! And thank you for the introduction to selling on Amazon: something I've not yet done, but have been considering. Very useful info.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Sunflower2423: That's a very good point. I really didn't cover Amazon's customer service in my lens but it is top notch. I've had several times where I've called for whatever reason and they've always taken care of me.

    • Sunflower2423 profile image

      Sunflower2423 5 years ago

      Nice lens with lots of good information. I love super shipper savings on Amazon. We had it for a year and it was great to order something and it be here in two days. One time we ordered a electric scooter for my daughters birthday and FedEx had damaged the box. My husband contacted Amazon and they were really nice and shipped one out the same day of a replacement even though the damaged one we shipped would not get their for a couple of days. This was very nice service.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @MJsConsignments: Thank you! Not a Rocket Squid after today though, I just graduated:)

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 5 years ago from Manila Philippines

      I like buying books via Amazon. I've experienced this a few times and the books arrive in good packaging and on time ^_^

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Very nicely done! One more lens, you Rocket Squid, you!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @Brandi Bush: Thank you for your kind words:)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @mbgphoto: Thank you!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @laniparis: Yes that is such a good resource!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @TaraWojt: Yes I desperately want to be a part of it but I haven't gotten an invite yet:)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @IMKZRNU2: Absolutely! Yes I've made money buying video games on Amazon and selling them on eBay:)

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @artbyrodriguez: I appreciate your feedback!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image
      Author

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      @ItayaLightbourne: Thank you! You can request a daily email to get the gold box special though the lightning deals you just have to check periodically. There's no notification for that as far as I know.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      This is an excellent resource on Amazon.com...I can tell you put a lot of work into this! It will be a very helpful page for many readers! :)

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Excellent lens...lots of great information

    • profile image

      laniparis 5 years ago

      Great lens. I check the ebook section of Amazon daily to see the free books.

    • TaraWojt profile image

      Tara Wojtaszek 5 years ago

      This is great information. I had never heard of the Amazon Vine program but I can definitely see the benefit.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Amazon beats even Walmart when it comes to 99% of the items. Video games are always 100% cheaper....I will take shopping on Amazon any day!

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Well done lens, and I like how you engaged your readers with questions.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      This is a very informative article and I learned several things I didn't know about buying and selling on Amazon! How does one get the notices about the Gold Box special deals that they offer throughout the day? Don't think I saw that. Great job and Blessings! :)

    • profile image

      flm_online 5 years ago

      I love the reviews as well. I am a prime memeber and it isso easy to get your order quickly. I do kinda of miss going out to get presents sometimes though ;)