Level Up Your Amazon Shopping With These Lesser-Known Features That Help You Save


From Amazon’s coupon section to a browser extension that helps hunt down deals, we take a look at some online shopping tips to help you save. Photo: JGalione/GettyImages

Perhaps it’s no surprise we’ve been shopping online a lot more since the start of the pandemic.

According to Statistics Canada,  e-commerce sales more than doubled in Canada — a 110.8 per cent increase from May 2019 to May 2020 — and the trend has continued well into 2021, according to Statista.

While bricks-and-mortar stores are now opening up again, the benefits of online shopping remain clear: you can shop 24/7 in the comfort of your pyjamas; you don’t have to fight traffic to drive to the mall and circle the parking lot; it’s easy to compare prices between multiple online retailers; and products are shipped right to your door.

Amazon.ca, as you might expect, benefitted significantly from the pandemic, with company profits increasing nearly 200 per cent (all of Amazon, and not just Canada).

Hey, it’s hard to beat the site’s vast selection, aggressive prices and fast shipping — sometimes receiving product hours after you’ve ordered it.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re an Amazon customer, too, but you might not be getting the most out of Canada’s biggest online retailer.

And so, take heed to these following tips and tricks — including some lesser-known ways — to ordering faster, saving more, get faster shipping and more.


Prime It Up


First, an obvious one.

While many Canadians suffer from “subscription fatigue” — paying for internet, TV, mobile phone, video streaming services, a fitness membership, satellite radio and so on — you’ll likely never complain about Amazon Prime.

For $80/year or $8/month, after a free 30-day trial, an Amazon Prime membership gives you a handful of advantages.

The big one is free express delivery on millions of items, many of which may arrive the same day (order early, get it by 9 p.m.), or up to two days. You’ll also get early exclusive access to some deals before non-Prime shoppers.

Other benefits include access to Amazon Prime Video (movies and TV shows), millions of songs with Prime Music, free Kindle e-books, and free games, in-game content and other goodies through Twitch Prime.


Amazon Coupons?!


While many Amazon shoppers aren’t aware of it, Amazon.ca has a Coupons section.

Simply go to Amazon.ca/coupons and you can browse by category: Grocery, Pets, Health & Personal Care, Electronics & Wireless, Toys & Games, Home, Garden & Tools, and Fashion & Accessories.

It may not be a lot — such as saving $4 on a bag of coffee beans, or $8 off a smart watch — but it’s definitely worth your while to see what digital coupons are here before you buy. Click the deal to apply it to your purchase.

Be aware some coupons may only be available to Amazon Prime customers.

Plus, Amazon.ca also has a Deals tab, featuring daily specials, as well as a little-known landing page called Spend Less, Smile More, which offers a variety of ways to save and streamline the shopping process.


Customize Your Search


As you likely know, Amazon has millions of products — quite literally — and so a generic search for what you want may take a lot of time.

Unless, of course, you start narrowing down your search by taking advantage of the boxes you can tick along the left side of Amazon.ca.

If you’re a member, always start by ticking off Prime so you know that you’ll get what you’re buying as fast as possible (and for free).

Then keep narrowing down things.

Select products that have only received a high rating from shoppers (such as four or five stars), select the price window you want (like between $25 and $50 for a garden hose instead of ones between $100 and $200), and you can even select the brand you want.

If you’re buying an external hard drive for your laptop, you can specify how much storage you’re looking for, such as one terabyte opposed to four terabytes, for example.

Get to know these left-side search options to whittle down what you want.


Warehouse Deals


Just as you might shop at a thrift shop or second-hand store in person, Amazon.ca, too, has an Amazon Warehouse section with great deals on quality used or refurbished products.

Here you can shop for millions of pre-owned and open-box items, including used computers and tablets, home and kitchen items, unlocked mobile phones and “previously enjoyed” televisions.

Even though you’re buying a discounted Amazon Warehouse product, many items qualify for Prime or free shipping.

But caveat emptor: these items generally do not come with a manufacturer’s warranty, but all are backed by Amazon’s liberal return policy.


Maybe Wait for Prime Day


While Amazon.ca decided to postpone the June 2021 Prime Day celebration due to the pandemic — “to focus on the safety of our employees and supporting our customers and selling partners” — expect it to return next June.

This is usually a two-day sales event where you can score great deals on several Amazon products (like Echo smart speakers and Kindle e-readers), as well as those from other companies.

It was held in the U.S. in June 2021, however, as well as in other countries. Amazon.com said its Prime Day was the biggest two-day sales period for third-party sellers in the company’s history. Robotic vacuums, coffeemakers and teeth-whitening strips were some of the top-selling products.

Hey, Amazon.com even put on a Prime Day concert featuring three Grammy winners: superstar Billie Eilish, H.E.R., and rapper Kid Cudi.


Shop Hands-Free


Many Canadians own an Amazon smart speaker, such as the Echo Dot ($60), but did you know you can shop on Amazon.ca by using your voice?

Say “Alexa, order [product name],” “Alexa, add [product name] to my basket” (to complete the order later), or “Alexa, re-order [product name]” and your trusty personal assistant will walk you through the process.

You can also say something like “Alexa, what are my deals?” (to hear about sales at Amazon.ca), “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” (for order tracking info), or “Alexa, add [product name] to my shopping list” (which you can access in the Alexa app).

If you like, you can set up a confirmation code in your smartphone’s Alexa app to prevent anyone from abusing the purchase-by-voice feature.


Install a Browser Extension


While not exclusive to Amazon, be sure to have a reputable browser extension, like Honey, to save money on purchases.

These tools keep an eye on what you’re about to purchase and tell you if the store you’re on has the best deal compared to other sites — before you buy — or if there’s a promo code or coupon you can apply before you check out.

In the U.S., Honey says users save an average of $177 a year, and with an average discount of 17.9 per cent (based on the company’s internal 2020 data).

To get going, click to add Honey to your favourite web browser — be it Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox, or Opera — and shop online like you normally would.

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