Amazon is synonymous with online shopping, and with good reason. Launched over 20 years ago, the world's largest retailer now sells nearly every mainstream product throughout all categories with brands ranging from niche sellers to global labels.
At this point, Amazon is the closest thing to a digital one-stop shopping destination; it even sells clothes. The Seattle-based commerce giant has also expanded into food delivery with AmazonFresh; its latest gadget -- the Dash Wand -- makes it easy for shoppers to add items to their AmazonFresh shopping cart. It's also testing a drone-based delivery system, dubbed Amazon PrimeAir.
But beyond the novel promotions and gimmicks, Amazon is an incredible option for shoppers of all stripes. There's so much to choose from, but it can be challenging to find the best prices. To help you streamline the purchasing process, we've come up with 12 tips to score better prices and find the products you really want.
1. Join Amazon Prime.
If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, Amazon Prime is a must-have. For just $99 per year, you'll gain access to unlimited two-day shipping on millions of items and exclusive discounts. Even better, the Prime Video service includes countless movies and TV episodes, Prime Reading delivers access to loads of books and periodicals, Prime Music has more than 2 million ad-free songs, video game pre-orders are 20 percent off and Prime Photos gives members unlimited online photo storage.
2. Check out Amazon Best Sellers for gifts.
Want to know what's popular for children, or red hot on the tech scene? Head over to Amazon Best Sellers for answers. Like a year-long gift guide, Amazon Best Sellers provides a selection of top products in over 30 categories. The hub also has convenient red and green arrows, showing which products are raising and dropping in popularity. The dynamic page also has additional tabs for Movers and Shakers, which are items that have spiked in the last 24 hours, Hot New Releases, Top Products, Most Wished For and Gift ideas.
3. Keep an eye on today's deals.
The deals page offers shoppers limited-time discounts on products. There you'll find the time-sensitive deals of the day, Lightning Deals and even a deals-focused newsletter. And the best part? Prime subscribers have access to exclusive early access deals. If you're on the lookout for new gear on the cheap, this is a great place to start.
4. Peruse Amazon Outlets.
Never pay full price shopping at the Amazon Outlets hub, which features markdowns, clearance items, overstocks and more, which can be navigated by browsing different filter options that display items by Active, Upcoming and Missed Deals.
5. Save more with Amazon Coupons.
Before settling for just any old price you see, you should always check out Amazon Coupons, a hub of digital coupons that can be saved to your cart by clicking the "Clip Coupon" button. Once clipped, it will be automatically applied at checkout.
6. Browse Amazon Warehouse Deals.
Amazon Warehouse Deals is the open box and used products hub of Amazon.com. The ever-changing section features deals on products that are returned, warehouse-damaged, used or refurbished, as well as deals on products that are technically new, but do not meet Amazon's normal standards. All products are tested and given a specific grade before being listed. Many items purchased from Amazon Warehouse Deals are eligible for Amazon Prime and free shipping, and some are backed by Amazon's A-to-Z Guarantee; however an actual warranty must be purchased separately.
7. Extend your range of categories.
While Amazon is best known for selling books and electronics, it has a surprisingly expansive selection of products in various categories. From Michelin tires to fresh flowers bouquets, Amazon services shoppers looking for virtually any mainstream product online. From the excellent vintages at Amazon Wine to the tens of thousands of masterpieces on Amazon Art, there's no reason to limit yourself to just e-books and gadgets.
8. Join Amazon Student.
The student version of Amazon Prime, Amazon Student is a low-cost program alternative for students. For the first six months, Amazon Student members get free two-day shipping on certain products, access to Prime Video, Prime Photos, Twitch Prime and student-exclusive deals and discounts. After the first six months, Amazon Students pay a discounted price of $49 to get access to all regular Amazon Prime features, including Prime Reading; also get $10 for referring a friend. Just keep in mind that Amazon Student membership is only available for shoppers who have a valid .edu email address or who can submit proof of enrollment.
9. Use Subscribe & Save.
If you're ordering the same products over and over again, the Subscribe & Save program is a godsend. It lets shoppers set up automatic delivery of eligible items each month, saving time and money. Members will get free shipping, a 5 percent discount on eligible items and a 15 percent discount when you have five or more subscriptions on your account. Better yet, you're only charged once your orders are shipped, and you can cancel at any time.
10. Create an Amazon Family.
This parent-focused page is the perfect place to find the kind of products that benefit your kids and your wallet. Prime members save 20 percent on diaper subscriptions, baby registries are a snap and you can even get age-specific deals emailed to you on a regular basis. If your family already uses Amazon, this hub makes everything even easier.
11. Use an Amazon Store Card.
If you need to make a big purchase, but don't want to shell out the cash for it on the spot, consider getting an Amazon store card. Cardholders can receive special no-interest six-month financing on orders of $149 and above, no-interest 12-month financing on orders of $599 and above and no-interest 24-month financing on select items.
You'll get an Amazon gift card upon approval, and eligible Prime members earn 5 percent back on select products. It also has no annual fee and zero fraud liability, so it's well worth considering for Amazon diehards. However, shoppers must apply and be approved for this card.
12. Check out Prime-exclusive clothes.
It may surprise you, but Amazon offers a nice selection of clothes. The catch? They're only available to Prime members. So if you're already a subscriber, why not take a look at Ella Moon or dress shirts from Buttoned Down? Skip the department store and save big.
This story originally appeared on PCMag