Every cheapskate out there knows that are some really great deals available on Amazon.com. Unfortunately, finding those deals can be like locating a needle in a haystack.
To make matters worse a lot of the deals at Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) require you to pay for shipping, sign up for Prime and buy $50 worth of stuff to get the “free shipping.” Meaning the bargain can often costing more than a regular order from competitors like Walmart.com and Jet.com.
The free shipping for $50 is a lousy deal because it can take weeks to arrive. Prime is a good deal if you want the video, but if you don’t want to watch The Man in the High Castle – it can be pricey. Particularly with Walmart (NYSE: WMT) offering free two-day shipping for just $49.99 a year through its Shipping Pass.
Stuff you Should Buy Through Amazon
Despite that there are some real money savers that are fairly to locate at the Everything Store. Here are some things you should buy from Amazon.com:
- Mailing supplies. Particularly padded envelopes and mailers. Padded mailing envelopes can be pricey often selling for $2 or $3 at dollar stores and the post office. I recently bought 100 Ecolite Kraft 8.5 x 12 bubble mailers for just $19.75 with free shipping. That works out to 20¢ apiece which is a tremendous deal.
- Toner cartridges. An EPS Replacement Toner Cartridge for my Dell E310dw with a 2600 page yield cost just $19.99 through Amazon. Dell’s cartridge with a 1,000 yield cost around $60.
- Tea. I recently found 312 bags of Lipton Black Tea for $9.37 at Amazon. 100 bags of the same tea sells for around $4 at Kroger supermarkets and Walmart and Family Dollar discount stores.
- Shipping Labels. I was able to order 200 Avery 5126 shipping labels for $19.99 with free shipping. The same labels cost $27 at Sam’s Club and around $35 at Office Max. If you’re willing to put with lower quality. A cheap knock off from something called Yens sells for $7.50 for 200. Note these kept jamming in my printer so I didn’t reorder.
- Probiotics. I found Amazon is the only place online I can find some of these including Florajen which is not sold in most stores.
- Books. Amazon still has the best selection online and many used titles for as little as 1¢ plus shipping. I’ve noticed that some books there retail for $2 or $3 with free shipping. This includes a lot of “new old stock;” books that were printed years ago but never sold. Be sure to shop used because there are a lot of dealers selling directly through Amazon. I also noticed that used books are usually much cheaper than new ones through Amazon.
- Back issues of magazines and comic books. There are thousands of these on Amazon, many sold by independent dealers such as myself.
Tips for Getting a Good Deal on Amazon
There a few things you can do to get a far better deal on Amazon. They include:
- Buy direct from merchants through Amazon. Many merchants sell directly through Amazon rather than the fulfillment centers. The big advantage to buying direct is that many of these sellers offer free shipping on all items. Office supplies in particular are far cheaper purchased this way.
- Avoid buying items marked Prime unless you are paying for Prime. You can usually only get free shipping on these items; if you buy $50 worth of stuff, and it is not a very good deal because it is not two days. Non-prime shipments can sometimes take up to two weeks simply to ship. Marked Prime means they are shipped from Amazon fulfillment centers, and not the merchant.
- Read the shipping terms particularly with low priced items. Many merchants offer ridiculously low prices then hit you with shipping charges. For example they’ll offer 50 bubble mailers for $5; a seemingly great deal, but charge $10 in shipping. That means you actually pay $15. You’d be better off ordering 50 bubble mailers for $10 with free shipping because you’ll save five bucks.
- Check the prices and deals on other websites before buying from Amazon. I’ve found far better prices on laundry detergent at Walmart.com (with free shipping through Shipping Pass) and cheaper groceries at Jet.com. If you do not have prime; Jet.com offers faster service and shipping, and a lower limit for getting free shipping. Walmart offers a year of unlimited free two-day shipping for $49.99 with its Shipping Pass.
- Take advantage of free shipping even if it costs more. Generally the final costs for the free shipping deals cost less than the “bargains” – when the price of shipping is added.
- Do the math. If there’s no free shipping; use your calculator to determine the final price. In many cases the “bargains” cost more than regular products – when the shipping is added.
It is possible to save money when you shop through Amazon if you use your head. Smart shoppers can save a lot of money when they use services like Amazon intelligently and sparingly.
Disclosure: the blogger who wrote this piece conducts retail sales of books and comics through Amazon.com.