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A Guide on How to Make Shopping on Amazon a Breeze, and How to Become an Amazon Expert in the Process

July 26, 2009

Most of us shop at Amazon at least once in awhile. Many of us shop there often–and even sell stuff there. These tips, tricks, and add-ons can make your Amazon experience faster, less expensive, more efficient, and more fun.

Make Your Wishes Come True: I can’t guarantee that you’ll get everything you want, but if you’re the notorious “guy (or gal) who has everything,” do yourself a favor and start an Amazon wish list. It’s quite possibly the easiest way to keep track of stuff you want; and the next time your birthday comes around, you’ll know exactly where to direct any kindly soul who wants to buy you a gift. Tell your would-be benefactor to click the Gifts & Wish Lists link at the top of Amazon, and then search for your wish list by your name or email address.

Organize Your Gift-giving: If you want to organize your gift-giving, Amazon’s Gift Central has you covered. This site offers gift ideas for all occasions, organized by price, relationship, age, and even personality. Desperate to find something original? Gift Central even has a page of suggestions For the One Who Has Everything.

Zoomii virtual bookshelf; click for full-size image. Browse Amazon’s Virtual Bookshelf: Amazon made its name as an online bookstore, but if the site’s online storefront makes you miss your bookstore’s shelves, head to Zoomii. It displays thousands of Amazon books and bestsellers in an interactive virtual bookshelf that’s tightly integrated with Amazon; when you’re ready to check out, all of the items you’ve chosen are in your cart and ready to buy at Amazon.

BuyLater extension for Amazon; click for full-size image. Buy an Item When it’s Available (or when you can afford it): Ever come across an item that you’re dying to buy–but it’s not in stock, or you just don’t have the funds to cover it? The BuyLater Firefox extension adds a Buy This Later button to Amazon pages and alerts you when the item becomes available or its price falls.

Find Deep Discounts: If you’re a serious big-deal hunter, plan a trip to Jungle­Crazy. This clever Web site rounds up deeply discounted Amazon items (everything is reduced in price by at least 70 percent). The goods here aren’t all gems, but you’ll occasionally find a diamond in the rough. You can dig for items by using the search box or by clicking through on the tag links, or plumb the depths of cheapness in the one-cent bin.

Get Books for Less: Though Amazon’s low prices and fast shipping are well documented, you can sometimes save even more money by buying elsewhere. Book Burro, a Firefox extension, integrates with Amazon and searches your local library and other online bookstores to pinpoint the cheapest price–which, if it finds the book at your library, is most likely zilch.

Comparison-shop from Your Phone: When you’re out shopping, you may be tempted to grab the first item you see on the shelf just because it’s there. If you have a touch more patience, however, the Amazon Mobile App for BlackBerry or the Amazon Mobile App for iPhone can be the perfect shopping companion. Snap a photograph of the item you want to buy, and Amazon Mobile will automatically recognize the product and show you how much it costs on Amazon (and let you buy it).

Find the Best Products: Buying a product on Amazon is easy when you already know exactly what you want, but it can be trickier when you have only a more general idea. That’s where Savvy­Graph comes in. Run a search of your keywords (for example, “50? HDTV”) at this handy site, and it will return a chart that graphs products based on their Amazon rating and their number of reviews received (presumably the more reviews a product has, the more accurate the rating will be). For a quick glance at the cream of the crop, look for items located in the top right of the graph (highest rated and most reviewed).

Editor’s Choice: Universal Wish List

Universal Wish List allows customers to add any product from any Web site to their Amazon Wish List. It takes customers only a few seconds to install the ‘Add to Wish List’ button on their browser’s tool bar. Once it’s installed, customers can go to any online store, and when they see something they want, click the ‘Add to Wish List’ button-and that’s all it takes to add it to their Amazon Wish List. Amazon designed the Universal Wish List to offer customers a convenient and easy way to create a Wish List that contains everything they want, making it the only wish list they’ll ever need!

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