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With over 500 reviews on this website, I thought shall I bother to write my own. I heard cries of 'Not another Amazon review!!' After long deliberation, I have decided to share my experiences with this website with you, whether you like it or not!
I first visited this website around a year and half ago while pricing a book I wanted to buy my brother for a birthday present. Looking around other sites, the book was costing around £5-£6, a little over my budget (I didn't have a job then - I was only 16). The search engine brought up a site called 'Amazon' which I hadn't heard of before as I was new to the online shopping experience. They had the book I wanted and for only £3 - half the price of the others! Needless to say I bought it, my brother was thrilled and I have never looked back!
♥ Amazon's background ♥ -------------------------------- I can't really find a lot about Amazon.co.uk but from what I have found on their website, they were launched in 1996, as an independent book store Bookpages, which was then acquired by Amazon.com in 1998. Over the years Amazon have branched out their online stores to include France, Canada, United States, Germany and Japan. They became famous for selling books but they now stock many other items such as Electronics, things for the garden and toys and games. Their Head Office is situated in Berkshire but they have other offices dotted all around the world.
♥ Layout & Design ♥ The layout of Amazon is plain and simple and easy on the eyes. Amazon pages consist mostly of a white background with various toolbars and special offer pictures to entice you in. On the white background the text is easy to read and is a good size and font, making it simple to find the information you want.
♥ Navigation ♥ Navigating around the website is extremely simple to do. The homepage presents you with a whole range of things to do and places to go. The Star Choice is shown on the top left displaying Amazon's featured item for the day. Lots of recommendations are shown down the centre of the page - they show the most popular and best offers e.g. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince £8.99! 47% off! Along the top is the toolbar - the most important part of the website from which you can do almost anything. Signing up is easy. Once you have shopped for your items and filled your basket you just need to input your e-mail address and a password. You will then be asked to enter card details (they accept most cards) or you can pay by cheque but it will take an age. Once this is done you will receive a confirmation for your order and an email as to when it will arrive. Then every time you want to order all you need to do is input your email address and password and bobs your uncle - it's remembered your details. Clever eh?
♥ Search Facility ♥ The search facility is excellent and it nearly always displays the results I want. The only occasion it didn't find my item was when I was looking for a rare DVD. Amazon will search both its own stock and that of Amazon Marketplace to find your item and will display both prices. You can also search for items that are the same type or brand or author if you are searching for a book. Amazon will also recommend a book you might like based on what you are looking at - which is sometimes helpful and I have ordered some items through this process.
♥ Range of Services / Products ♥ There is a wide range of products available. From starting out with just selling books, Amazon have expanded vastly and now offer thousands of items in the categories: Books - These range from Audio Books, Text Books, Children's books and Adult Books. Many marketplace sellers offer books at 1p a time, a lot of them classics. Electronics and Photo - Choose items from photography, sound and vision, phones and PDA's just to name a few. Music - Whether you prefer jazz, rock, R'n'B or pop you'll find everything you need here. DVD - DVD's of all genres reside here. Amazon are currently advertising their 4 DVD's for £20 promotion (which would include free delivery!) and have various other offers cropping up nearly every other day to try and get you to buy. Video - Up to 20% off! Like the DVD's all the genre's are here to choose from whatever your taste. Software - Up to 50% off. Whatever programs your computer needs you'll find it here. PC and Video Games - Here you can buy games for all the different consoles and you can even buy the console itself. Home and Garden - An odd category which sells items for your kitchen, garden, items to help with your DIY and personal items like toothbrushes and hair removal kits. A very odd assortment. Toys and Games - For Kids only (or adults who haven't grown up yet!) You can choose toys by age, by the type of toy or brand (Harry Potter has its own section!) Items are rarely out of stock so you should get what you are looking for.
♥ Products & Services Pricing ♥ Amazon Marketplace is by far the cheapest place to shop. Ok, so lots of the items are used, but many are in excellent condition and you wouldn't know the difference. I always buy from the Marketplace as the prices are so low - countless times I have ordered a good book to read and have only had to fork out 1p (plus the £2.75 postage) but still that's only £2.76 a book - Bargain! Don't get me wrong - Amazons prices aren't bad but I find you can get better bargains at the marketplace so that's why I shop there and will continue to. Postage on Amazon can range from £1.45 for a CD or DVD, £2.75 for a book, to £4.98 for an electronics item. If you place an order for over £19 you should qualify for a free delivery - Note that all items must be ordered at the same time and placed in the basket. I forgot to do this before and had to pay separate delivery charges for each item. Not good for the wallet!
Gift certificates are available to buy for friends and family and can be redeemed only on Amazon orders, not in the Marketplace. They can be sent to friends and family via email (as a code) or by post in a letter. You can send any amount from £5-£500 and include a personal message to your loved one. I have received a few from film surveys completed on the internet and they are always handy to reduce the price a little.
♥ How fast is this website? ♥ I find Amazon's site loads quite quickly, almost instantaneously. It takes no time at all to process information and provides search results in the blink of an eye. Everything happens so quickly and you can search and order in less than a minute! N.B I am on broadband so I don't know what it would be like on a slower modem.
♥ Content Update ♥ Items are updated everyday at least and new products are added to their ever-growing collection. Items are available to pre-order frequently and most will be sent out the day they are released.
♥ Purchase Tracking Function ♥ Once you have ordered an item you can keep track of it in my Account. You can't track it as such but you can see if it had been dispatched and email the seller if you have any queries. If you order from Amazon then you do get an email from them once - when they have received it and twice- when it is dispatched from the warehouse. They also give an estimated delivery time which is very helpful.
♥ Speed of Delivery ♥ Delivery is very fast and sometimes next day depending on the time you order and who you buy from. Amazon will deliver orders by first class which means they could take 2-3 days although whenever I've ordered from them, I've received it the next day - now that's service! I think so long as you place your order early in the day it'll get to you the next day. They do offer next day delivery but there is a charge If you buy an item from a trader at Amazon Marketplace your order could take any amount of time. Some of my orders have been here next day while others took 9 days! (The trader was on holiday when I bought her item). All items are packed well in a cardboard box (if you order from Amazon) or a jiffy bag (with a trader from the marketplace)
♥ Ability to Customise ♥ If the item you are buying is a gift, Amazon will give you the option to have your parcel gift wrapped with a message. If you choose to take up this offer you can give them the address of the person you intend to send the gift to and they will deliver it straight to them. There is a charge for this service - £2.98 - which is a bit expensive I think, after you have already spent money buying the gift but I suppose it saves a bit of time, maybe a little bit of money and it saves you the effort of wrapping and paying more postage costs. I haven't yet used this service as the gifts are normally for close friends and family so there is no need to send it to them through Amazon - although I will consider it for the future.
♥ Customer Services Support ♥ I have never had to complain about a thing with Amazon or its members which shows how good their service is. Amazon always keep you informed of what is happening with your order and what process of delivery it is at. After I pre-ordered the Half Blood Prince last December, I had an email a month later saying that they would not be able to supply the book as they couldn't get any in. I was just about to order somewhere else when I received an email saying that a 'naughty house elf' had tampered with the email and a 'howler' would be sent to him. Lol. At least they have a sense of humour - although somewhat demented!
♥ Overall rating ♥ I really do recommend Amazon highly. With 1.5 million customers pre-ordering the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince book released last week (of which I was one!) with them, they must be doing something right. I've never experienced any trouble with Amazon or its traders on Amazon Marketplace. I also like the fact that you can sell your unwanted items on Marketplace. You can list your items on here - just like eBay - but they charge a whopping 10% off your item for the fees of listing it. I listed my mobile phone once but after the charges there was no point in selling it as I wouldn't have made a profit.
♥ GOOD POINTS @ Low prices - check out Marketplace as this is the cheapest place but also keep a look-out for bargains on Amazon itself. @ Fast Delivery - 1-2 days is an excellent rate of delivery. I was so pleased with this - I love the fact something you order one day can be with you the next. @ Huge range of items - Thousands of different items, hundreds of categories. 99% chance I'll find what I'm looking for at a price I like. @ Helpful staff and members - Always on hand to answer questions and queries and very friendly.
X BAD POINTS @ High postage charges - You can und up paying more for postage than the item sometimes. I do think their prices are a little too high but I'll continue buying here as the items and service are worth the money.
So overall I give this site a marvellous 10/10. It beats nearly all competition (except eBay of course) in its prices, design and customer service. I will always use Amazon and have recommended them to friends who find it useful to buy books for college at a low price.
Look out eBay - you may have a fight on your hands!