I am a little late to the party: Amazon.com

By Stew

Okay, I have always thought that I was pretty close to the cutting edge of technology, the internet and all the rest. Yes, I do not have an iPod, but that has more to do with the fact that I do not really listen to music much, not that I do not know how to use one. I bank online, I book flights and hotels online I get my news online . . . Hello! I am a blogger, for crying out loud! Of course, I buy stuff and sell stuff on the world wide web through sites like Ebay, Craigslist and shopping portals like Fatwallet and Ebates.  I use internet tools such as Gmail, social sites, Google documents, Mapquest and more. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this thing that one recent president called “the internets”.

Yet all this time, I have pretty much considered Amazon.com to be a place to buy books.

Over Christmas, I was given an Amazon.com gift card and while I was initially quite thankful for the gift, my first thought was, “Does Amazon sell anything that I want?” Obviously, I knew that Amazon sold books and I had heard a little bit about the “Kindle” device and as I typed in the url, I thought that I would at least take a look at a Kindle while I was there. I do not know if I had never been to Amazon.com before or if I had simply only looked at the book section, but as soon as the site loaded, I knew that I was going to have some fun spending that gift card. They carry electronics, clothing, video games, auto parts – Amazon even sells groceries.

I really only have time and money for one hobby: I love to hike. Since I live in Colorado, hiking is a great hobby to have. However, I have never gone on an overnight backpacking trip and it is my goal to take at least one overnight trip this summer. The problem is that there is a pretty significant upgrade in gear needed to go from my usual half-day or full-day trips to an overnight excursion. I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get decent gear for really low prices or even second-hand. The sporting goods stores in our area are have all kinds of great gear and shopping at those stores is fun . . . until one looks at the price tag.

I was surprised and overjoyed to find that Amazon carried all kinds of backpacking equipment and much of it was listed at too-good-to-be-true prices. I was able to purchase my main piece of equipment, a frame backpack, for approximately a third of the price that I would have had to pay in a sporting goods store. Amazon is going to be one of the first places I look when shopping in the future. Most of you probably know quite a bit about Amazon, I am a little embarrassed that I knew so little about this online store. However, if you are new to the site, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Not everything is new. Many of the items are “used” or “previously owned”. You might have no problem with second-hand items, but be sure that you know what you are purchasing.
  • The biggest advantage of Amazon is that you can compare wide ranges of brands, prices and quality. There are no “brick and mortar” stores that have this kind of selection.
  • I found the Amazon value to be high, but not every product/price is the best deal ever – you need to know what you are looking for and be familiar with the usual price range of that item. Amazon should be one of your shopping stops, but not your only shopping stop.
  • Read the reviews, but take them with a grain of salt. The reviews hold a great deal of good information about certain products, but do not make assumptions based on a single reviewer, get a sense of the majority of reviews.
  • Fill out your own review. If you purchase a product and like it or do not like it, help the rest of us out by posting your thoughts. Buying online can be treacherous sometimes, but honest reviews help us all to be discerning shoppers.
  • Send me an Amazon gift card anytime. ;)

How about you? Any thoughts or experiences with Amazon.com?

Photo by kodomut

10 Responses (including trackbacks) to “I am a little late to the party: Amazon.com”

  1. Damsel Says:

    I pink puffy heart Amazon! I always check reviews there when I’m getting ready to purchase something, even if I’m buying it elsewhere. I agree with you – it’s important to look at the overall review rating and not base a purchase on one or two reviews.

    My very favorite thing about Amazon right now is my Amazon Mom membership – Moms (or any caregivers) can get free Prime membership (which includes free two-day shipping on anything) when they make purchases of $25 a month in the baby store section. This means that, instead of going to a B&M store to get diapers every month, I have them shipped to my door for free, cheaper than I could get them at the store! Woo-hoo!

    Students can also get free Prime memberships. I think you have to provide a student ID or something, though.

  2. prasti Says:

    yes, amazon is a great site. i like your list of things to keep in mind while perusing the site…definitely true. a friend of ours referred us to the seller site on amazon last year, and we have started utilizing it to sell some of our gently used (sometimes new) books, DVDs, etc. amazon does make a commission from the sale, but you also get reimbursed for shipping costs.

  3. Stew Says:

    Ha ha! “pink, puffy heart”

    I’m going to have to use that one.

  4. dramon Says:

    Students can get free amazon prime (2 day shipping) and the selection on text books is pretty good. Student has to provide an edu email address. Not only that the student can nonimate a friend which is pretty nice. In this way, I get amazon prime for free.

    I shop amazon all the time to compare prices and read reviews. Check out their tools and home improvement items; they offer a very wide selection.

    As mentioned, you can order food. I do use this to ship speciality items (like for diabetics) to my in-laws. It is stuff that you can’t always find in stores.

    Returns are relatively painless.

    One word of caution, we did use a third party book seller that sold through amazon and they shipped the wrong item. amazon doesn’t really help here. Had to work with third party.

    This year, I saved a bundle on shipping by sending the item direct to recipeint ( since I had free shipping).

    Personally, the best thing is not paying sales tax; which can be a significant savings depending on the state you live in.

  5. Donna Says:

    I also love Amazon.com!!! I buy a variety of products that I cannot get locally ie. my husband’s favorite potato chips, special formula vitamins, recycled paper products etc. I use the 15% additional off to arrange the next shipment. I also have scored some incredible daily deals on snack bars I use regularly. I do compare all prices. As to the Kindle. I love mine. I do have the 3G version (in-laws got it for me for Christmas) and it works well. I do recommend getting the sturdy cover that includes the light built in. It works well also. I looked at all the reviews, I looked at the color Nook but the Kindle is the easiest on the eyes. Now, I don’t have to make more space for books, I am saving paper and can have a book when I want (at appts, waiting at the pharmacy, etc. Great post.

  6. Stew Says:

    dramon – thanks for the tip! that is a great deal!

  7. Stew Says:

    Donna, I am seriously considering the Kindle. I need to read more and that might help . . .

  8. 20 and Engaged Says:

    I have a $100 Amazon gift card that I still don’t know what to do yet. I’ve banned myself from buying anymore ebooks because my Kindle already has a bunch of books I haven’t gotten to yet. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to buy. I’m glad you discovered the amazingness that is amazon :)

  9. Stew Says:

    20 and Engaged, if you are really struggling, I could help you with that gift card. :)

  10. Candace Says:

    I love Amazon! I recently started spending about 1/3 of my grocery budget there. I regularly watch Slickdeals.net for deals. When a grocery item goes for sale, you can combine it with Subscribe & Save for an extra 15% off plus free shipping. You have to buy in bulk typically, but for excellent prices.