How Does Shipping on Amazon Work?

So how does Amazon get the stuff that you order from either one Amazon’s own product depots, or the (ware)house of a third-party seller, to your doorstep?  More importantly, how fast can it do that, and how much does it cost you above and beyond what you paid for your merchandise in the first place?  Read on and find out.

Shipping Services that Amazon Uses

Amazon usually uses the largest and most trusted courier services for its deliveries, including UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service.  However, it has also begun using other local and regional couriers to ship its goods, including:

  • APEX / ECMS Express
  • ABF Freight System Inc.
  • DHL Express
  • i-parcel
  • LaserShip
  • Menlo Worldwide / UPS Supply Chain Solutions
  • MSI
  • OnTrac
  • Parcel Pool

If you buy items from a third-party seller on Amazon, they may choose their own shipping options, as well.

Amazon Shipping Times

The time it takes to be shipped something you purchased on Amazon depends on whether you’re buying directly from Amazon or from a third party, what speed of shipping you choose, and where you live.

Direct from Amazon — Inside U.S.

  • Shipping to a location in the continental U.S. usually takes 4 or 5 business days with standard shipping, 2 business days with priority shipping, and 1 business day with express shipping.

  • Shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico usually takes 3 to 7 business days with standard shipping, 2 to 5 business days with expedited shipping, and 1 to 4 business days with priority shipping.

  • Shipping to any other U.S. territory (e.g. Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands, American Samoa) usually takes 3 to 5 business days with standard shipping, or 1 to 4 business days with priority shipping.

Direct from Amazon — Outside U.S.

Shipping times to areas outside the U.S. vary by region and the shipping speed that you choose.  For lists of these times, see this help section on Amazon global shipping times.

From a Third-Party Seller

NOTE: These times may vary by up to 2 days, as this is usually the time frame within which third-party sellers will ship their items after you have ordered them.  They may also vary based on the individual seller’s policies, so be sure to read those in the seller’s profile.

  • Shipping to a location in North America usually takes 4 to 21 business days (but usually not more than 14) with standard shipping, 2 to 6 business days with expedited shipping, 2 business days with priority shipping, and 1 business day with express shipping.

  • Shipping to a location abroad usually takes 3 to 6 weeks with standard shipping (but may take 8 to 12 weeks if there are delays in clearing customs), and 3 to 7 business days with expedited shipping.

How much is shipping on Amazon?

In general, you can find shipping costs for an order on Amazon when you go to review it, underneath the Place Your Order button.

Amazon shipping costs

Beyond that, your shipping costs are affected by whether you’re inside or outside the U.S., the shipping speed that you choose, as well as whether you’re ordering merchandise directly from Amazon or from a third-party seller.

Inside U.S. Shipping Rates — Direct from Amazon

Amazon keeps relatively tight-lipped about how much it costs to ship items to people in the U.S. directly from Amazon, perhaps because of the amount of competition between courier services in America.  As such, it does not explicitly list its shipping rates within the U.S., except to say that they are affected by the shipping speed that you select, as well as how large or heavy the items that you’re purchasing are.  They also may be affected by how expensive the items you purchase are; if they’re expensive enough, you may be able to get Amazon to waive the shipping costs.

The shipping costs associated with third-party sellers below may give you a general guideline for these costs.

Outside U.S. Shipping Rates — Direct from Amazon

Shipping costs to areas outside the U.S. from Amazon vary not only by region, but by the type(s) of goods being shipped and the shipping speed chosen.  For lists of these costs, see this help section on Amazon’s global shipping rates.

Inside U.S. Shipping Rates — From Third-Party Seller

  • Shipping to locations within the United States using standard shipping usually costs between $4 and $4.50 per item.  Certain bulky items may cost an additional 50₵ per pound of weight. 

  • Shipping to locations within the United States using expedited shipping usually costs between $6.20 and $7 per item.  Certain bulky items may cost an additional $1 per pound of weight.

  • Priority shipping within the United States costs about $15 per item, and is restricted to certain non-bulky items such as books, CDs, vinyl records, VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.

  • Express shipping within the United States costs about $20 per item, and is restricted to certain non-bulky items such as books, CDs, vinyl records, VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.

Outside U.S. Shipping Rates — Third-Party Seller

  • Shipping to locations outside the U.S. using standard shipping usually costs about $15 per item.  The only exception is books; they usually cost $17 per item weighing less than 1 lb., and $25 per item weighing more than 1 lb.

  • Shipping to locations outside the U.S. using expedited shipping usually costs about $46.50 per item, regardless of its type or weight. 

So, to answer the two most frequently asked questions about shipping on Amazon:

How much is one-day shipping on Amazon?

Assuming that you live either in a U.S. territory or at least a country in North America, and have chosen either priority or express shipping (which are the two conditions necessary to potentially have an item shipped within one day), shipping will probably cost you between $15 and $20 per item.

How much is 2-day shipping on Amazon?

Again, assuming that you live somewhere in the U.S. (including overseas territories like Hawaii or the Virgin Islands) or North America in general, and are using either expedited or priority shipping (which are the two conditions that will likely get an order to you within two days), shipping will cost you between $6 and $15 per item.

 

And that’s everything you need to know about Amazon shipping. If you want some more information, check out our other articles on how to track your Amazon order and how to get free shipping.


How to Search on Amazon

By now you’ve probably signed up for your Amazon account and learned how to make purchases, but you may be wondering how to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you don't know where a certain kind of item is in a store, then you ask someone who works there where it is, right? You can do sort of the same thing on Amazon, except you have many more options for narrowing down what you're looking for until you find exactly what you want.

If you’re interested in something in any of these categories, or are looking for something very specific, be sure to read our instructions below on how to search on Amazon.

To do an Amazon search:

  1. Visit www.amazon.com in your web browser of choice.
  2. At the search bar, select a department to search (optional), type in your search terms, and click the magnifying glass icon.
  3. Sort or filter your search results by department, price, review score, and so on.
  4. Click on any search result to view the item's details page.

Want a little more information about the process? Check out our step-by-step instructions below (with pictures) to help guide you.

Detailed instructions for how to search on Amazon

1. Visit Amazon in your web browser, select a department to search (optional), and enter your search terms.

Enter www.amazon.com in the address bar of your favorite web browser; any browser will do, but for this tutorial, we’ll be using Google Chrome.

Near the top of the screen, you'll see a bar labelled "Search." Click the white box in the middle and type in what you're looking for. 

Amazon search bar

If you think you know the general area that the item will be in, you can also click the grey button to the left of the search bar and select a department to search in from the drop-down menu.

When you're ready to search, click on the Go button to the right of the search bar.

2. If you're in a hurry, use one of Amazon's search suggestions.

Another thing to note is that as you type in your search terms, Amazon will offer suggestions on what you might be looking for. Click on a suggestion to search for it; results with a department attached to them will search in that specific department.

Amazon search suggestions

3. Filter your search results based on multiple criteria.

You'll now see a list of results for the search terms you entered (and from a particular department, if you specified one). Great! There sure are a lot of results, though… how will we know what product is right for us? Fortunately, the left-hand menu contains a bunch of ways to refine your search. 

Refine the search terms

A common one is to narrow down your options by price. Under "Price," click a price range to show only the products that fall within that price range (the faint number next to each range shows you how many results there are in that range). You can also click the left and right boxes with currency signs next to them and type in a minimum and/or maximum price, and then click Go to set a custom price range.

4. Sort your search results in various ways.

You can also click the drop-down menu in the top-right corner labelled "Sort By" and select Price: Low to High to see the least expensive items first, or click Price: High to Low to see the most expensive options first.  You can also sort your results by other criteria, such as relevance to your search or average review score.

Search for items by price

5. Find items from a specific seller.

Another option is to filter your results based on who's selling the item. A lot of items are sold by Amazon itself, but a lot of third-party companies and individuals sell things too.

Filter Amazon search by seller

In the left-hand menu, under "Seller," click a person or company's (user) name to see only products being sold by them (the faint number next to the name shows you how many unique items they have that match your search terms).  You can then click another seller's name to add their items to your search results, or you can click on a name that already has a check beside it to remove their items from your search results.  You can also click See More to see other sellers, if there are more than those listed here.

Finally, if you want to stop looking at items based on who's selling them, click Clear. This will take you back to looking at merchandise that matches your search terms from everyone who's selling it.

And that’s how you search on Amazon! If you want to learn a little more about how to help yourself with searches, read our advanced tips for searching below!

4 tips for advanced searching on Amazon: become a pro today!

1. Use as many filters and sorting options as you can to make your search as specific and refined as possible.

Make sure you check out our steps above on filtering and sorting your search results, especially by price or by seller. This will really help you narrow down what you’re looking for. Remember that you can combine multiple filters, so each time you click one, you’re reducing the options available to you significantly. Amazon has countless products, so the more you filter, the more specific you can be.

2. Learn Amazon advanced search syntax to do a power search.

Most search engines have special terms or phrases you can use to better specify what you want to search for. This is called “advanced search syntax,” but it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds. It just means that there are ways you can type your search terms into Amazon to make it find more specific items for you.

Here are the Amazon advanced search syntax options, and some examples of how you can use them:

Term (Type This) Explanation – What It Does Example
not Excludes the following word from the search. Search: Batman figurine not Robin
Result: All Batman figurines that do not include Robin.
and Search must include both of the terms that proceed and follow “and.” Search: Batman and Robin figurine
Result: All figurines with Batman and Robin.
or Search will include either the word proceeding “or,” or the word following it, but not both. Search: Batman or Robin figurine
Result: All figurines with either only Batman or only Robin.
: (colon) Term proceeding “:” must be equal to the term following it. Search: figurine: Batman collectible
Result: All figurines that feature Batman and are considered collectibles.
( ) (parenthesis) Groups terms together to specify the search when other words cause a
conflicted search.
Search: figurine: collectible and (Batman or Robin)
Result: Collectible figurines that feature either Batman or Robin
Without the parenthesis, you search for collectible figurines that feature Batman or any items that feature Robin.
* (asterisk) Generalize your search with related terms. Search: Batman collectibles*
Result: Batman collectibles, collectors’ items, paraphernalia, figurines, limited edition items, etc.
“ ” (quotation marks) Words within quotation marks must appear in the search results exactly, in that order. Search: “Batman and Robin figurine”
Result: Only items in which the name contains “Batman and Robin figurine,” excluding items such as “Robin and Batman figurine” or “Batman and Robin toys.”

3. Use the Amazon advanced search if you’re looking for books.

Amazon Books has an advanced search option built right into it, as the website has always specialized in selling books online. Simply move your cursor over the Departments drop-down menu, move your mouse cursor over Books & Audible, and then click Books. On the next page, at the very top of the menu, click Advanced Search.

Amazon advanced book search

From there, fill in as much information as you can about the book you are interested in, and then click the yellow Search button.

4. Know when to use the Amazon search and when to browse the website casually.

Remember that Amazon's internal search engine is best used for when you’re looking for something very specific. If you can’t find what you want from searching, the reason for that may not be that your search terms aren't specific enough, but rather that you aren’t actually sure of what you’re looking for. When you have a clear idea of what you are looking for, be sure to use the search function in conjunction with all these tips we’ve given you. If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, browse the website for a bit first; it may help you learn what it is you want!

 

And those are a few ways you can search for products on Amazon If you’ve found an item you love through searching, be sure to read our step-by-step tutorial on how to buy on Amazon. We can also give you tips on how to get free shipping, or how to access coupons to help you save some money while shopping!


How to Track Your Order on Amazon

Once you've placed an order for an item on Amazon, you can sometimes track where your package is, so you'll know just how close you are to having your new merchandise arrive on your doorstep!  If you haven't ordered an item from Amazon before, check out our "How to Buy on Amazon" tutorial to learn how.

How to Track an Order from Amazon

  1. Go to "www.amazon.com" and log in.
     
  2. Move your mouse cursor over "Hello, [Your Name]" and click Your Orders in the drop-down menu that appears.

    Your Amazon orders menu
     

  3. Now, simply find the order that you wish to track, and click Track Package beside it.

    Amazon track package button
     

  4. A list will appear showing you the details of the different stages your package is at. The example below just shows that the order has been received, but as your package gets further along in its journey, additional information will appear here.

    Amazon order tracking information

 

And that's how to track a package you've ordered from Amazon! If you want to learn more about Amazon orders and shipping, check out the rest of our tutorials including out article on as how Amazon shipping works, how to get free shipping with Amazon, or how to get Amazon coupons.


Amazon One-Click Ordering

Shopping on Amazon is great and all, but it can be tedious and time-consuming to have to keep selecting or entering the same shipping and billing information each time you want to order something. That's where Amazon's "One-Click" ordering function comes in handy.

What is Amazon One-Click Ordering?

"One-Click" allows you to pick a default set of shipping and billing options that you can tell Amazon to automatically use whenever you order a physical item that needs to be shipped.  This saves you the trouble of having to select or enter these settings manually if you use the same ones over and over.  You can change these default options at any time (if you move to a new address or get a new credit card, for example), and you can turn "One-Click" on or off, depending on how much you use it.

How to set up "One-Click" ordering

  1. Go to www.amazon.com in your web browser and log in. 

  2. Move your mouse cursor over "[Your Name]'s Account", and click Account.

    Amazon account settings menu

  3. Scroll down to the "Settings" box and click 1-Click Settings.

    Amazon One-Click Ordering settings

  4. Let's assume, for the purposes of this tutorial, that you've never placed an order on Amazon, and so there is no information on where and how they should send your packages.  In that case, click Enter a New Address.

    Amazon shipping address form

  5. You'll now have to enter some information about where Amazon should ship your items.

    Enter Amazon shipping address

    Click in each of the boxes or drop-down menus underneath "Add a Shipping Address" and type in or select:

    – your full name
    – your street address
    – your unit address (if you live in an apartment, condo, etc.)
    – the city in which you live
    – the state, province, or region in which you live
    – your mailing code (doesn't have to be a U.S. Z.I.P. code)
    – the country in which you live
    – your phone number

    Under "Optional Delivery Preferences," you have two additional options:

    – choose whether or not Amazon can deliver packages to you on the weekend

    – provide the access code to your apartment complex or gated community (if you're allowed) so a delivery person can come right to your door

    Once you're done entering information, click Save and Add Payment Method.

  6. Next, you'll enter information about how you're going to pay for things you buy.

    Amazon payment information form

    – Click in the box that says "Credit or Debit Card Number" and type in your credit card number (with no spaces).  Amazon will automatically detect what type of card it is.

    – Click in the box that says "Cardholder's Name" and type in your name as it appears on your credit card. 

    – Click the two drop-down menus labelled "Expiration Date" to select the month and year that your credit card expires.

    – Assuming that the address that your credit card bills and bank statements is the same one that you want your items shipped to, find the address that you entered on the previous screen under "Address Book" and click Use This Address.

  7. You'll now be taken back to the main page for your "One-Click" settings.  If you want to change your shipping address, shipping settings, or payment method, click the Edit button in those respective areas, and choose new settings, or enter new ones by following steps 5 or 6 above.  When you're ready, click Turn 1-Click On to enable the feature.

    Amazon One-Click settings

Now, when you're viewing an item's details while shopping, if it's a physical item that can be shipped to you, you can click Buy Now with 1-Click.

Buy with Amazon One-Click

This will automatically place an order for an item, using the settings you specified.  No shopping cart or shipping/billing information needed; your item is on its way!

 

And that’s how you utilize one-click ordering! To learn more about some of Amazon’s best features, be sure to check out our other articles in our Amazon course on how to get coupons, how to set up a Wish List, and how to get free shipping.


How to Buy on Amazon

Like a real-life supermarket, on Amazon, you’ll first need to find the item you want, add it to your shopping cart, and then check out. Once you get the hang of shopping in a virtual space, it’s really quite simple. But if you’re a beginner, we’ve got you covered here with some basic instructions on how to buy on Amazon.com.

To buy on Amazon:

  1. Sign in to your Amazon account.
  2. Hover over Departments and click on a category. When you find an item you want, click on it.
  3. Review the item, and click Add to Cart.
  4. Click Proceed to Checkout.
  5. Enter a shipping address and click Continue.
  6. Choose a payment method and click Continue.
  7. Click Place Your Order.

Do you need a little more information? Check out our detailed step-by-step instructions below with pictures to make sure you get every step of the process!

Detailed Instructions on how to buy on Amazon

1. Sign into your Amazon account.

Go to www.amazon.com in your web browser and log in.  To do this, move your mouse over “Hello, Sign In” and click Sign In. Then click in the boxes highlighted in the right screenshot below and type in your email address and account password, respectively.  Finally, click Sign In Using Our Secure Server.

Amazon sign in screen

2. Search through departments.

Let’s say that your toaster just went on the fritz, and you’re looking for a new one.  Let’s start by moving the mouse over Departments, then Home, Garden, and Tools, and then clicking Kitchen and Dining.

Amazon departments

3. Find a specific category.

Now, let’s click on Ovens and Toasters, and then click Toasters, just to narrow things down a bit more.

Amazon categories

4. View and select an item.

You’ll now see a list of toasters available for sale.

Amazon items for sale

Across the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see a series of options that you can click to narrow down your search even more.  For example, you can look for a product:

  • in a certain colour
  • from a certain company or brand
  • based on how well it has been reviewed by Amazon customers
  • within a certain price range
  • based on who is selling it

The product information itself will show you, among other things:

  • what the product looks like, and if there are any variations that you can look at
  • what the product is called
  • its price when you buy it (and if you save anything off retail price)
  • when you can expect to get it, or how many are left in stock
  • what other customers are saying about the product

When you find a product that you like, click on its name.

5. Add the item to your cart.

Here, you’ll see some more detailed information about the product you’ve selected.  If you’ve decided that it’s what you want, click the drop-down menu marked “QTY” to select how many of this product you want. Then click Add to Cart.

Add Amazon item to cart

6. Proceed to the Amazon checkout.

If this is the only thing you want to buy, click Proceed to Checkout.

Proceed to checkout when shopping is complete

7. Enter a shipping address.

You’ll now have to pick an address to send your delivery to. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to create a new one.

Enter your shipping address

Click in each of the boxes or drop-down menus underneath “Enter A New Shipping Address” and type in or select:

  • your full name
  • your street address
  • your unit address (if you live in an apartment, condo, etc.)
  • the city in which you live
  • the state, province, or region in which you live
  • your mailing code (doesn’t have to be a U.S. Z.I.P. code)
  • the country in which you live
  • your phone number

There are additional options underneath “Optional Delivery Preferences”, where you can:

  • choose whether or not you’re available on weekends to receive delivered packages
  • provide Amazon with the access code to your apartment complex or gated community (if you’re allowed) so a delivery person can get in
  • choose whether or not the address your items will be shipped to is the same one that you want your bill to come to

When you’ve entered all of your information, click Continue to move on.

8. View and confirm your order summary.

On the left, you’ll see your order summary.  On the right, you’ll be asked to select what kind of shipping you want (if applicable).  Click the button next to the type you want.  Usually, the faster the shipping speed, the more it will cost you. When you’re done, click Continue.

Confirm your order

9. Choose a payment method.

You’ll now have to select a method of paying for your purchase.

Choose a payment method

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll assume that you want to pay by using a credit card.  To add a new credit card:

  • Scroll down to the section that says “Credit or Debit Cards.”
  • Click in the box that says “Name on Card” and type in your name as it appears on your credit card.
  • Click in the box that says “Card Number” and type in your credit card number (with no spaces).
  • Click the two drop-down menus labelled “Expiration Date” to select the month and year that your credit card expires.
  • Click Add Your Card to add this credit card as a payment option.

When you’re done, this credit card will automatically be selected as a payment option, so you can just click Continue.

10. Confirm and place your order.

On the next screen, you can review your order and make any final changes, including the type of shipping you want.  If you’re happy with what you have, click Place Your Order.

Place your order on Amazon

You’ll receive a confirmation receipt via email.  Now all that’s left to do is to wait for your item to arrive!

 

And that’s how you use Amazon to order something! If you want to learn how to search for items better to make your shopping experience more efficient, be sure to check out the rest of our step-by-step tutorials in the Amazon course. If you’re interested in learning how to bypass some of those pesky shipping fees, check out our article on how to get free shipping with Amazon.


How to Make an Amazon Account

Now that you know a little bit about what Amazon is and how it works, you may be thinking about signing up for an Amazon account. If you think this ecommerce giant might be right for you, and you're ready to see just what you can find in the online megastore, you'll have to create an account first. In this article, we’ll teach you how to make one.

To create an Amazon account:

  1. Visit www.amazon.com in your web browser.
  2. Hover your cursor over Sign In, and click Start Here on the drop-down menu that appears.
  3. Click into each labelled box, entering your name, email address (and confirm it), and phone number (if desired).
  4. Enter a password (and confirm it).
  5. Click Create Account.

Do you need a bit more direction that that? Our detailed, step-by-step instructions below, with pictures, can help you get on track.

Detailed Instructions on how to make an Amazon account

1. Visit the Amazon website in your web browser.

Go to www.amazon.com in your web browser. Any browser will do, but for this tutorial, we’ll be using Google Chrome.

2. Access the user registration page.

Move your mouse over Sign In until a drop-down menu appears, and then click Start Here.

Amazon sign in form

3. Enter your personal information, and select a username and password for your Amazon account.

You'll need to enter some information here. In the top set of boxes, click in the box marked "My Name Is" and type in your name.  Then, click in each of the boxes marked "My Email Address Is" and "Type It Again" and type a copy of your email address into each. Then (if you want), click in the box marked "My Mobile Phone Number Is" and type in your cell phone number.

In the middle set of boxes, where it says "Enter A New Password" and "Type It Again," click in each of the boxes and type in a password that you want to use to secure your account with. (Both copies will appear as bullet points to keep others from spying them over your shoulder).

Now, click in the last box, where it says "Type Characters," and type in the letters and numbers that you see in the distorted image above the box. This is a security check to make sure that you're an actual person, and not a computer program trying to mass-produce fake accounts.

Amazon account sign up form

4. Create your Amazon account.

Finally, click the yellow Create Account button at the bottom of the form.

 

And that’s how you create an Amazon account! Now that you’re all signed up, consider reading the rest of our Amazon course step-by-step tutorials on how to buy, how to search for products, or how to get free shipping – all on Amazon.