Amazon.com is simply the best online retailer around. Best pricing, easy returns and free shipping are among the features that are setting the standards. And sales-tax-free purchases saves you yet another 4%-8% over brick and mortar shopping.
Here are some interesting facts about Amazon.com:
- In 2000, Amazon released the now-familiar logo saying: “a smile now begins under the a and ends with a dimple under the z, emphasizing that Amazon.com offers anything, from A to Z, that customers may be looking to buy online.”
- The Amazon Kindle revolutionized electronic book readers when it was released in 2007 and it continues to do so with each new release. At an original initial price of $399 in 2007, the least expensive version is now available for $79. There are over 1 million titles available in the Kindle Store.
- There are over 3 Million Free Titles that you can get for your Amazon Kindle from Amazon and various other organizations.
- Amazon has seventeen other niche sites including MyHabit.com (discount designer brands) and Zappos.com (one of the best shoe stores online). You can see all of these at the bottom of any Amazon site page.
- In financial terms, Amazon’s market capitalization is $89B – close to half the size of Walmart at $200B or 12 times JCPenney ($7b) or 7 times Kohl’s ($13B).
Amazon has its own products (Kindle, Amazon Basics, Pike Street, Strathmore, and Pinzon), but mainly, Amazon is a network of thousands of retailers. A search on Amazon may result in products from many different retailers. Because of such a network, retailers must compete readily in price. If you search for a specific product, you may see results from several vendors. You may pick any one you’d like – usually by lowest price. Amazon acts like a storefront to those retailers and prices are most often better than visiting a specific retailer’s site directly.
Along with low pricing, Amazon has several useful features – similar to those that you’ll see at other online stores. But, because of the large base of customers, product information tends to be very useful. For instance, product reviews can really help you decide which product to purchase. Also, ‘purchased together’ information can be useful because there may be something else you need of which you may not yet be aware.
Amazon offers US Shipping options similar to most other online sites. However, Amazon also has FREE Super Saver Shipping to the U.S. that ships in 5-8 days (but I usually get it in 2 or 3!). This options is available if you spend more than $25 – and that amount is easy to reach. I’ve bought some very heavy items that included free shipping – I don’t know how they can afford it. During checkout, be careful to select Super Saver shipping and you’ll save plenty.
One of the most hated problems with internet retailers is the return process. Amazon attention to this problem early on made them the retailer of choice when internet shopping was evolving. The Amazon Return Policy is mostly simple, not the least bit burdensome, and the industry standard. For instance, you can return your unused Kindle within 30 days for a full refund.
Amazon doesn’t currently collect sales tax in most US states. The state of California has enacted a new law in January 2011 that mandates that Internet retailers begin start collecting state sales tax in July 2011 if they had offices, workers or other connections in California. In response, Amazon terminated the connection to 25,000 California affiliates. Then, in September 2011, Amazon cut a deal to delay collecting until September 2012. This debate will heat up again in the middle of 2012. Until then, Amazon still collects no taxes for California residents. As of December 2011, only 5 states have sales tax applied. From Amazon’s site:
Items sold by Amazon.com LLC, or its subsidiaries, and shipped to destinations in the states of Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, or Washington are subject to (sales) tax.
Jeff Bezos has navigated Amazon.com through some rough times (like the internet crash) and has now made Amazon arguably the most popular online retailer. Make your next purchase via Amazon and you’ll be convinced too.