What is Amazon? + How Amazon Works

Shopping can be therapeutic for some people, but for others, it can be a real hassle.  Sometimes, only certain stores will have the kinds or brands of products that you want.  Those stores might be a fair distance from where you live, so you have to spend time and gas money to get there... and, of course, you can even get stuck in traffic.  Even if you get to the store, they may not have the item that you want in stock.  And let's not forget the conundrum of having to visit multiple stores if you want to shop around for the best price on an item.

With Amazon, you can avoid these pitfalls and keep your shopping experience simple by shopping online.  If Amazon isn't selling what you want or need, a third-party seller on Amazon might be.  You can also get your items delivered straight to your door through common postal services, so there's no commuting needed on your part.  You can even become a seller on Amazon yourself, and put some of your stuff around the house up for sale if you need more space, cash, or both.

So what exactly is Amazon?

Amazon is one of the largest general online marketplaces in the United States, if not the world.  Users can buy items from Amazon or a third-party seller on Amazon, or sell their own items.  Orders are then delivered using common worldwide courier services.  Amazon also sells its own line of technology items.

How does Amazon work?  3 ways to use Amazon

1. Online shopping

Amazon's main function is as an Internet-based marketplace.  Its basic process is pretty simple, and similar to what you'd encounter in a real-life retail store:

  1. Create an account, or log in if you already have one.

  2. Search for items that you'd like to purchase, and then add them to your virtual "shopping cart".

  3. When you have everything that you want, proceed to the virtual "checkout" counter.

  4. Enter your address and credit card information, so that Amazon knows where to send the merchandise and how you're going to be paying for it.

  5. If you've purchased physical merchandise, Amazon will send it to you via a common courier service such as UPS or FedEx.  OR, if you've bought digital merchandise, you can download it right from Amazon onto your computer!

2. Third-party selling

In addition to selling items itself, Amazon also allows third parties to sell items on its website.  Whether you're only looking to sell a few items or are looking to fill bulk orders, Amazon can accommodate you.

  1. Choose what class of seller you want to be -- Individual (less than 40 items/month) or Professional (40+ items/month) -- and set up your account.

  2. List the items you're selling on Amazon.  Whether they're already being sold on Amazon or are new products, just enter how many you have of each item, their condition, and how much you're asking for them.

  3. When someone places an order for your stuff, Amazon will let you know.  You can then work out the delivery details through Amazon, or make arrangements with a courier service on your own.

  4. Based on what you've sold, Amazon will make regular direct deposits to your bank account.  Cha-ching!

3. Amazon's cutting-edge products

Amazon has expanded beyond being an online marketplace to creating some of today's most cutting-edge digital devices and services.  These include:

  • Kindle -- Probably Amazon's most well-known original product, the Kindle is a specialized computer known as an "e-reader" that allows you to read all manner of printed material.  Whether it's a celebrity or politician's biography, the hottest fiction on the market, or even just your daily city newspaper, you won't need a bookshelf to store it all... Kindle will take care of that for you.  And no paper cuts!

  • Fire Tablet -- Like Apple's iPad, Amazon's Fire Tablet is a tablet computer, designed with maximum portability in mind and a unique, easy-to-use interface.  While it's designed for entertainment (such as playing games, watching movies, taking photos, and even reading books like on the Kindle), it also has several common practical functions that you'd expect on a regular computer.  These include sending, receiving, and reading emails, as well as creating, editing, and sharing documents in Microsoft Office.  You can browse the Internet on it, too.

  • Fire Phone -- Amazon's mobile "smart" phone, the Fire Phone contains many similar features to the Fire Tablet.  In addition to being able to send and receive phone calls (obviously), you can use it to play games, listen to music, watch movies, take photos, and browse the Internet.  You can even use it to stay organized with a calendar program, access to your email client, and support for creating and editing Microsoft Office documents.

  • Fire TV -- Fire TV is a little box that turns your television into a do-it-all entertainment hub.  Watch the movies and TV shows that you want to watch, when you want to watch them through services like Netflix, YouTube, and HBO Go.  Find and listen to your favourite music from a library of millions of songs, or even play games!

4 advantages of using Amazon for online shopping

Most people use Amazon for a beyond-convenient shopping experience, right on the Amazon website.  Here are 4 of the many advantages that they enjoy by doing so.

1. Find more items in stock with tons of sellers, including Amazon itself

Worried that your local store might be out of something you want?  Someone on Amazon might have it and would be willing to sell it to you, or Amazon itself might have one.  Amazon shows you prices and stock levels for different versions of a wide variety of items.

2. Enjoy the convenience of straight-to-door courier delivery of orders

Can't make it out to the store, or don't want to spend the time and gas money to do so?  Amazon delivers your purchases straight to your door with common courier services such as U.P.S. and FedEx, which you can easily track.  Some of its content can even be put straight onto your computer!

3. Trade in your used items for Amazon store credit

If you have stuff lying around the house that you don't want anymore, send it to Amazon!  They'll give you store credit so that you can buy what you really want or need.

4. Wish Lists keep track of your must-have or want-to-have items

Got your eye on an item, but can't afford it right now?  Or is there an item that you buy all the time and don't want to have to keep searching for it every time you want to buy it?  Add an item to a Wish List and keep track of it!


In the rest of our Amazon course, we'll show you how to set up an Amazon account and start buying!  This includes tricks like how to search for items on Amazon, how to track an order, and how to put together a Wish List.  We'll also go over things like how to return Amazon orders that you have an issue with, as well as how to trade in items to Amazon for store credit.  Take some of the legwork -- and guesswork -- out of shopping by joining Amazon today!


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