Tech corner

A beginner's guide to Amazon


Amazon is a great place for online shopping, whether you’re looking for gifts for friends or stocking up on necessities for the home. If you’re not familiar with the site, check out our handy tips on how to get started.

Signing up for Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a great membership to have if you’re planning on becoming a regular user of the site, as it offers many great deals. A Prime subscription costs £79 per year and provides free next day shipping on items purchased from Amazon that display the Prime logo.

Prime also includes free shipping on Marketplace items that sellers opt to have delivered via Amazon's warehouse, but not on most third-party purchases.

As well as the free shipping, Prime includes extras such as Prime Instant Video, a streaming video service similar to Netflix; Prime Music, which provides free audio streaming; and the ability to borrow one e-book per month for free from the Amazon Kindle Lending Library.

Starting a subscription is simple, as all you need to do is click "Your Prime" at the top of any Amazon page.


Browsing for items

The Amazon homepage showcases featured items, and once the site starts learning what you’re into, it will display products based on your history.

To find a specific item, simply type in the search bar at the top of the page and press "enter" to search the entire catalogue. For more precise search listings, combine this with selecting from the drop-down menu and clicking on a category that takes your fancy.

If you'd prefer to window shop, just click "Shop by Department" and pick a section to browse.


Shopping on the marketplace

Similar to eBay, many items on Amazon come from third-party sellers through the marketplace, which can be identified by a "sold by" line near the "add to cart" button.

If both Amazon and third-party sellers offer the item, the large "add to cart" button automatically buys from Amazon, and you'll see a few alternative "add to cart" buttons with different prices and a link to a full list of used and new versions of the product.

Marketplace sellers set their own prices, so you might find a great discount on a used item, or be lucky enough to come across a rare, discontinued product that's only for sale at a collector's price. Even when buying from another seller, Amazon still handles your payment, so you don't need to worry about dodgy accounts.


Returning items

If your new coat doesn't fit right or a gadget arrives broken, Amazon accepts returns on most of its sales within 30 days of the original delivery date. Third-party sellers often offer the same policy, although you'll usually have to pay for return shipping to the seller unless they advertise free returns.

To start a return, visit the website’s Returns Centre, click on "return items" and pick the product you want to send back. Several types of items such as food and high-priced goods come with different Ts & Cs, which you can check out on the return policy page.

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