It’s pretty safe to say that everyone has heard of Amazon.com. The Internet mogul has grown from an online bookstore in 1994, to an online one-stop shop that sells anything from books to electronics to clothes to food products. But there are superstores like Target and Wal-mart all over the place doing the same thing. So why choose Amazon instead?
Amazon.com scores much higher than the average eCommerce website (66/100). There are a number of different services Amazon.com provides shoppers: the standard free subscription, Amazon Prime, Subscribe and Save and Amazon Instant Video. The introduction of these programs has boosted Amazon.com to one of the most popular and highly rated online shopping websites out there.
The free subscription: Amazon shopping basics
Amazon’s free membership is the basic account that Amazon offers. Once signing up for the account you can shop anywhere on Amazon, buying either from Amazon itself or from one of its second and third-party vendors. With the free membership shoppers cannot always get free shipping, but you are able to participate in most of the other deals and savings offered on the site.
“Over the past 10 years, I have bought all sorts of things from Amazon, from food and household items to books and music. They deliver in a timely manner, and everything has arrived in good condition. I always wait for sales and discount codes because the shipping can make things a little bit expensive, but for me it is worth it to have everything delivered to my door.” –tuffy777, Reviewer since 2007
Not everyone is happy with Amazon.com’s free service. Some reviewers experienced slow shipping services, especially with the products that do offer free shipping.
“My only major complaints are the price of shipping and the long wait for products that are ‘free shipped.’ If you qualify for the free shipping and have the time to wait for your products, it’s great. God forbid you need them in a hurry though. Then it’s a very expensive nightmare.” –kaywcrown, Reviewer since 2007
Amazon Prime: Amazon shopping for the frequent deal seeker
Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription-based service, $79 a year, that gives you more access to deals on Amazon.com. With this service, shoppers get free two-day shipping, deals and promotions for college students including textbooks and giveaways, unlimited instant streaming movies and TV episodes on your laptop, phone and tablet, and you can borrow Kindle books for free. Right now, Amazon is offering a one-month free trial of Amazon Prime to new members.
Amazon Prime might sound expensive, but shoppers who use Amazon regularly say the free shipping is worth it in the long run, and the convenience is priceless.
“I share an amazon prime account with a friend and it has saved us so much money! We buy lots of stuff online, including textbooks, gifts, toys, games, etc. The prime account has saved us a bundle in shipping charges. Plus, the site often has the best prices of anyone else around. Be careful, because occasionally they are priced much higher than others– but if you know what you are looking for and the price it usually goes for, you can get incredible deals on this site.” –ferby03, Reviewer since 2008
Subscribe and Save: Amazon shopping for the every day consumer
Amazon.com also has a Subscribe and Save service for certain products, mostly products you would buy at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Not all items are eligible for this program, but you can find baby food, home and cleaning supplies (such as toilet paper or Lysol), feminine care products and bath products, among other products.
With this service, shoppers can purchase an item, such as Nature Made Vitamin B Complex. As you place your order, you can subscribe to have that item automatically delivered to you every one to six months. Most of the items that are available for this subscription service are marked down, similarly to buying an item in bulk. Rather than pay $13 a bottle, you pay $12 and are saved the hassle of going to the store. Through the Subscribe and Save program shipping is also free if your subscriptions add up to more than $25.
“They have the subscribe and save option on certain items-diapers, foods, paper and beauty items that gives you an extra percentage off of your order, plus FREE shipping. OH, FREE 2 DAY shipping. I have not bought diapers in store in months and never will again.” –jamielo25, Reviewer since 2011
Amazon Instant Video: Movies made easy
Amazon Instant Video, though automatically included in an Amazon Prime subscription, is also available to free subscription users. With Amazon Instant Video you can watch movies, TV shows, and classics that sometimes can be hard to find streaming online. You can also subscribe to current TV seasons and watch the most recent episode the day after it airs.
For free subscription users, TV episodes usually cost $1.99, and subscriptions vary from show to show. You can also rent a movie for 48 hours for between $2 and $4, or buy the movie so you can watch it any time from Amazon.com.
The savings and convenience are undeniable
Not everyone was happy with Amazon.com, particularly with the shipping options that are available to the free subscribers, but an overwhelming number of reviewers were happy with the services Amazon.com provided. And, with all of the different options, there is something that can cater to a shopper’s every need without having to leave home.