Tag Archives: Amazon Prime

Tips for Shopping on Amazon

Once upon a time, big-box and department stores ruled the earth like gentle retail behemoths, and the thought of purchasing an item online, sight unseen, was madness. Who in their right mind would share their credit card information, home address, or shipping details like “leave package under the mat on the porch?” Then along came Amazon, and everything changed. Through my Amazon Prime membership, I’ve purchased everything from patio furniture to my Mother of the bride dress, and the possibility of never having to walk inside a mall again fills my heart with such happiness it brings a tear to my eye.

And before you condemn me for the collapse of the American small business economy, I buy local when I can. But, there are times when the convenience of Amazon collides with the time constraints of my life making it my go-to option in those moments. There’s a lot more to a Prime Membership than just free two-day shipping on many items, including Amazon Prime Music, Pantry, and Video. Make the most of your membership by taking advantage of these lesser-known features.

When you shop through Amazon Smile, The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity of your choice. There are over one million charities to choose from, so no matter the cause near and dear to your heart, there’s certain to be a charity that resonates with you.

Pay attention to your stage of life. Are you a student? If so, through Prime Student you’re eligible for six months of Prime for free, and a half-price discount going forward (only $59 per year). If you’re a parent, sign up for Amazon Family to get a 20% discount on items like diapers and baby food, a free Baby Registry Welcome Box, an emailed newsletter with parenting tips, product reviews, and exclusive deals. Plus, you get a 15% Baby Registry completion discount.

If you’re in the market for furniture, Amazon’s Ar View lets you view products in your home before you buy them. To use it, open the Amazon app on your smartphone, tap the camera icon in the search bar, and then scroll “view in your room” and select a product.

Make sure you’re getting the best price by paying attention to three things:

  • If you don’t need the item right away, check to see if a third party seller is offering it at a lower price. Many offer free shipping, and if you’re willing to wait a day or two longer, you may get a better deal. Just make sure you review their return policy as their terms may differ from Amazon’s.   
  • Check out Amazon Warehouse deals. These are products that have been returned by customers like you and me, so many are open-box but still quality products, often deeply discounted. For example, currently, there are Sony WH-CH500 Wireless On-Ear Headphones for just $14.12.  
  • Amazon’s Outlet offers closeouts, markdowns, and overstock deals for Prime members. Items are discounted anywhere from 10-70% off list prices.

While we’re talking savings, take advantage of Subscribe & Save to save up to 15% on items you frequently purchase like paper towels, pet food, baby wipes, and pretty much anything else you use regularly. There’s no long-term commitment, and you can cancel any time. You can also take advantage of ordering through Alexa Prime-eligible physical products. On supported devices, you can also ask Alexa to place orders for music.

Finally, take heart if you’re one of the 26 million Americans who’ve lost packages to porch pirates, Amazon may replace that package for you at no additional cost. To make your case to Customer Service, you’ll need to have purchased directly from Amazon, not a third-party seller, and include your tracking numbers. Don’t expect to be compensated if this is a recurring issue – Amazon tracks who reports stolen items – and in future, consider using an Amazon locker or Amazon Hub to protect your purchases.

Tips for Voice Shopping with Alexa

 By Tracey Dowdy

I’m not that old, but when I think of grocery shopping back when my children were little, it’s a blur of car seats, dropped toys, cereal negotiations, and the occasional tantrum – not always by my children. But the gods have smiled upon moms and dads everywhere and given us the power of voice shopping with very own personal assistant – Alexa.

If you’re new to using Alexa for more than checking the forecast or settling an argument about trivia, you’ll be glad to know that with a few simple steps you can use Alexa to add items to your Amazon shopping cart, complete the purchase, and even track your order.

The first step is, of course, to become an Amazon Prime member at the cost of $119 per year. Once that’s complete, go to your Alexa app and choose Menu > Settings > Alexa Account > Voice Purchasing. Click on Purchase by Voice. Then go to 1-Click Preferences on the Amazon website and set up a payment method. To purchase an item, simply say, “Alexa, add (product or item) to my shopping cart.” Alexa will add the item to your cart. Repeat until your shopping list is complete, then say, “Alexa, order items in my shopping cart.” Alexa will ask you to confirm your order, allowing you to review the items and make changes before the order is sent. You can specify Prime Now for faster delivery, but you’ll have to specify by saying “Alexa, order (item) from Prime Now.” If the item is available for two-hour delivery, it will be added to your cart and be to your door in two hours.

The beauty of ordering through Alexa is that you can be as vague or specific as you like. If you’re ordering a Lightening to USB cable, you can say, “Alexa, order one SEGMOI Apple certified USB Lightning cable” and it will be added to your cart. Or, say, “Alexa, add a Lightning to USB cable to my cart,” and Alexa will choose an Amazon Prime product for you unless you’ve ordered the item before. In this case, Alexa will default to your previous specifications. If you’re not looking for a specific brand or style, you can say, “Alexa, find me deals on (item),” and Alexa will find options, list the sale price and ask if you want to purchase it. Simply say “yes” to add it to your cart or “no” to move to the next deal. This is particularly useful if you’re shopping for gifts and need suggestions. CNET has excellent guides for using Alexa to buy gifts or gift cards.

By now you’ve likely heard examples of kids – or parrotswho have ordered hundreds of dollars of items through Alexa so learn from them and add a four-digit code to authorize purchases. Go to the app, tap Menu > Settings > Alexa Account > Voice Purchasing. Then tap Voice Code, type in the four-digit code you’d like to use, and select Go.

Once you’ve placed your order, you can track it by saying, “Alexa, track my order,” and Alexa will tell you the date of purchase and when they are scheduled for delivery. You can have Alexa provide automatic shipping updates through the app. Go to Settings > Notifications > Shipping notifications. Choose the notifications you want to receive. When new information is available, Alexa will notify you.

 Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Amazon Offers Cloud Storage for All

By Tracey Dowdy

One of my favorite quotes from Anchorman is the line, “Boy, that escalated quickly.” That’s kind of how I feel about Amazon’s latest move in the cloud storage arena.

Last year they announced free, unlimited photo storage on Cloud Drive for members of Amazon Prime. That was a significant boost for Prime when coupled with membership perks like free two day shipping and unlimited streaming video. Yesterday, with their announcement of Unlimited Photos or Unlimited Everything for members and non-members alike, they’ve changed the landscape of cloud storage again.

Amazon certainly isn’t the first to offer cloud storage but they are the first to offer it to anyone, regardless of membership. Unlimited photo storage will still be free for Prime members, but for everyone else the service is offered at $11.99 for photos and $59.99 for all other media – video, documents, music – per year and when compared to other cloud storage providers, there’s a significant price difference.
amazon-cloud-storage
Amazon has recognized one very important fact: the average consumer has accumulated a significant amount of media over the years from photos and video to documents, all scattered across multiple devices, and most of us really have no idea how much storage we need.

“Most people have a lifetime of birthdays, vacations, holidays, and everyday moments stored across numerous devices. And, they don’t know how many gigabytes of storage they need to back all of them up…With the two new plans we are introducing today, customers don’t need to worry about storage space–they now have an affordable, secure solution to store unlimited amounts of photos, videos, movies, music, and files in one convenient place.” Josh Petersen, Director of Amazon Cloud Drive

To make the deal even sweeter and lure potential users from other cloud services, Amazon is offering a free three month trial. They’re banking on both the sweetness of the deal and the fact that frankly, most of us are not going shift again in three months once we’ve taken the time and trouble to upload in the first place. Plus, once you’ve chosen to store everything on Cloud Drive, how much more likely are you to choose Prime membership to take advantage of that free, two day shipping? And since you’re already buying books, why wouldn’t you just buy your music…and your movies…and your groceries…

But before you jump from DropBox or iCloud, stop and consider what you need. A terabyte is a lot of storage and for most of us, more than sufficient. Plus, if you’ve already invested time and money uploading to other cloud services, moving everything over is daunting and may not be worth it. On the other hand, if you’ve been debating what to do and just need to get everything tucked away to sort through and manage at some point in the future, it’s hard to argue with Amazon’s price point. And as several commentators have pointed out, at the very least Amazon’s announcement may force other cloud storage providers to examine their prices and services in order to stay competitive.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.