Monday, November 19, 2007

Online Shopping: Speed Versus Pennies

Okay, here's an obvious little tip for Money Monday: Buying from Amazon.com will probably save you some spare change, but buying the same books (etc.) from Barnes & Noble's website (BN.com) will deliver your items faster. As a disclaimer, these shipping methods tend to only apply to the continental United States.

At Amazon.com, for example, John Krakauer's Into the Wild costs $8.37. Add the necessary items to have your subtotal at or above $25 to qualify for free shipping. However, this will take about two business days to process and around seven business days to ship. You'll save some cash (wait for the BN.com example), but you'll wait a while. Alternatively, you can get unlimited "free" two-day shipping if you join Amazon Prime for a $79 annual fee, and that will cut the wait time significantly.

BN.com: Using the same example, John Krakauer's Into the Wild costs $9.76, or $8.78 if you're a BN member (an annual fee of $25). Regardless, Amazon.com is still cheaper for this specific book. Add the necessary items to have your subtotal at or above $25 to qualify for free shipping. After about one business day to process, you'll have your shipment in three business days or less.

When it comes to free shipping over $25, BN.com tends to be faster than Amazon.com. Amazon.com, on the other hand, tends to have better prices than Barnes & Noble when it comes to more-or-less popular items, but there are probably many exceptions to this rule of thumb.

Keep this timetable in mind if you're going to do some online shopping for the holiday season and (1) want to get your gifts delivered on time, (2) want to save some pennies on each item, or (3) somewhere in between.

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