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Seven tips for smarter shopping on Amazon

Even if you shop at Amazon.com only a few times a year, these tips will help you get the most out of your Amazon shopping experience.

Ed Rhee
Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.
Ed Rhee
3 min read
Amazon.com boxes
Ed Rhee/CNET

Amazon.com is a wonderfully convenient e-tailer to shop at. Where else can you order an LCD TV, stand mixer, diapers, and pet food on the same order, then have them all delivered to your front door within two days? It's a shopper's paradise, all right.

To help you get the most out of shopping on Amazon.com, here are seven tips to consider:

Price tracking
Amazon.com already has some of the most competitive prices anywhere, but their prices can fluctuate on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. If you're not in a hurry, you can track prices and wait for a better deal. You can try Amazon price tracking extensions for Chrome or Firefox, but they're not always accurate. For the most accurate pricing, there's nothing better than going directly to the source.

When you find a product you want to track, add it to your shopping cart. Either leave it in your cart as-is, or move it to the Saved For Later list. Go back to your cart every now and then to see if the price has changed. If it has, you'll see a notice at the top of the page.

Amazon price changes
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Subscribe & Save
Do you have certain household staples that you need to replenish frequently, like toiletries, diapers, or batteries? If so, you might be able to save some money by using Amazon's Subscribe & Save program. Items that qualify for the program can be ordered on a subscription basis at a discount. Managing your subscriptions is fairly easy and you can cancel individual subscriptions at any time.

Multiple wish lists
Using multiple wish lists can help you organize products you're interested in and more. In addition to having a list for yourself, create another to save gift ideas for your friends and family. If you order parts for your car, consider making another list, so you can keep all the parts organized for your specific vehicle. Do you watch streaming videos from Amazon's Instant Video collection? Create a wishlist to act as movie queue, since Amazon doesn't currently offer queues for instant videos.

Amazon Instant Video wish list
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Amazon Student
The Amazon Student program initially provides six months of free Prime membership (2-day shipping only), then allows the student to purchase Prime at a reduced rate of $39 a year for up to four years. You'll also receive a newsletter with exclusive student discounts on a variety of products during the membership.

Third-party sellers
Third-party sellers on Amazon can sometimes have products in stock that Amazon doesn't, or even offer them at a lower cost. However, experiences with third-party sellers can vary, so make sure to look up their seller rating before making a purchase. You'll also want to look up the return policies of third-party sellers, since they're usually different from Amazon's.

Third party seller ratings
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Package tracking by SMS (text messages)
Tracking packages on Amazon's Web site is very easy, but if you'd prefer to just have the delivery status of your package sent to your phone, you can sign up for TextTrace. TextTrace will send out text messages when your package is out for delivery, delivered, or when there's an exception. To sign up for TextTrace, go to your account settings and look for "Manage Text Tracking Alerts."

Amazon Mom
The Amazon Mom program is tailored for primary caregivers who need to purchase baby products, up through the toddler years. It's free to join and the first time you join, you're given three months of Amazon Prime (two-day shipping only) for free. And yes, dads can sign up, too. The main benefit of the Amazon Mom program is the 20 percent discount on diapers and wipes, when purchased via subscription. Occasionally you'll be offered exclusive discounts on other baby products as well. After your three months are up, you'll need to purchase the Prime membership to continue receiving discounts.

Amazon Mom
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

That's it. If you have any other cool Amazon.com shopping tips, please share them with us in the comments below.