How to master… shopping on Amazon

20 tips, tricks and hacks that’ll transform your online retail sprees

Love it for its bargains and convenience or loathe it for its all-consuming ubiquity, you can’t deny that Amazon has radically changed the way the world shops.

From its roots as an online bookshop to its present day position as purveyor of everything under the sun, Amazon has risen far and fast, so much so that even those unmoved by its business model likely use it at least a few times a year. It’s really, really hard to ignore a reliable online retail service – especially when late December rolls around and you realise you’ve got two days to buy approximately 87 Christmas presents. Plus wrapping paper.

We’ve already noted Amazon’s convenience and its competitive prices, but there are ways to make it better still. Want to shop smarter, and save-ier? We will train you. Read on, Grasshopper.

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Prime Pointers | General Tips

Money savers…

1) Bargain hunt with Daily Deals…

The first stop for bargain hounds without a clear idea of what they want but a fierce desire to make major savings should be Amazon’s Daily Deals section.

As the name suggests, these offers (which are spread across every department) are generally refreshed every 24 hours, meaning you only have a limited time to take advantage. Some deals don’t even stick around for the full day, expiring in a matter of hours of when a certain amount of stock is sold.

Daily Deals is something of a lucky dip of savings: you never know what might be in there, so don’t come in expecting to find something you need.

2) …And what's in the Warehouse…

Warehouse Deals is where Amazon shifts refurbished, factory-damaged, returned and second-hand (aka “open-box and pre-owned”) products at low prices. All products are in “good condition”, thoroughly inspected/tested, and backed up with Amazon’s normal satisfaction guarantee, but fall short of Amazon’s standards for “new” and will likely lack a manufacturer’s warranty.

3) …And don’t forget the Outlet

The third spot for finding heavily discounted products on Amazon is the Outlet. This is a straight-up offers/sales section with a full range of categories to comb through – including groceries, fashion, books and electronics.

4) Search for heavily-discounted specific products

If you’re less of a browser and more of a “I know what I’m after” type, it’s well worth checking out Money Saving Expert’s Amazon Discount Finder tool, which will unearth deals and reductions you might struggle to find when using Amazon’s regular search box.

You can search by keyword and filter by department, category, discount percentage, and minimum and maximum price.

5) Check historic pricing data with the click of a mouse

CamelCamelCamel keeps track of product pricing for online retailers including Amazon, and its web browser extension, the Camelizer, lets you bring up all the info on the product you’re currently viewing with a single click of your mouse, so you can make sure you don’t shell out the big bucks on something that’s likely to drop in price again soon.

You can even set up an alert on a particular product, so Camelizer will notify you when it drops below a certain price. Ker-ching!

6) Price just dropped? Ask Amazon for the difference

It's a real bummer when you buy something only for the price to plummet a day or two later. Amazon used to have an informal policy whereby it’d refund you the difference (in gift card form), as long as you asked within a short period of the transaction taking place – but that now seems to have been quietly ditched, apart from in the case of TVs. Even so, it’s worth emailing customer service to enquire if such a situation arises – the worst that can happen is they say no.

7) Eurovision price contest

Before we bid the EU adieu, there’s a reasonable opportunity to pick up some cheaper products across Amazon’s EU sites. You can compare prices easily using tools like Curiua and Hagglezon, but note that the current weak pound means that digging up a bargain from abroad is going to be harder than it was before the referendum.

8) Subscribe and save

One way to save a few quid on household essentials is to use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save option. Available on thousands of products, it gives you additional savings if you receive five or more products on a single, monthly delivery date.

There’s no commitment here, so if you don’t need another nine rolls of toilet paper you can remove that from your subscription ahead of time without a penalty, or set the frequency to every two or three months instead.

Also, if you’re also a Prime user, you can get a further 20 percent off nappies when you Subscribe & Save through Amazon Family.