April 21, 2013

Maximizing Amazon Subscribe and Save with 15% Discount on 5 or More Items

Would you like to save money and get free stuff?   

Recently I noticed that Amazon Subscribe and Save shipments can get 15% off if you have 5 items in a month.   Further Amazon Mom members already get 5% so combined you can get 20% off total.

In a situation where you're buying a decent amount on Subscribe and Save it can make good sense to buy more items to make sure you hit the 5 item threshold and qualify for the 15 or 20% discount.    That 15-20% discount can even pay for the additional items AND even save you money in the process.  

To maximize this and get the full 20% rate it helps to be an Amazon Mom member, but the principal works the same if you're not in Amazon Mom and only get 15%.

The simple example of the idea is if you have 4 items ready to ship worth a total of $50.  If you add a 5th item that costs $2.50 then you'll get an extra 15% discount on the $50 order.  The 15% discount off $50 will save you $7.50 which is worth more than the extra $2.50 you spend on that 5th item.


Tactic #1 - adding cheap items to get 20% off your whole order

Lets say you currently have 3 items in your subscribe & save delivery scheduled for May :

Cat food = $10.97
 Friskies Cat Food 5.5-Ounce Cans x24
  Heartburn medicine =  $22.69
Prilosec OTC 42 Count

Cheeze-Its  = $11.25
Cheez-It Crackers 1.5 ounce x 36

Thats a total cost of $44.91.   If you could cut 15% off that you'd save $6.73

If you found 2 items that were under $6.73 then you'd be getting those items for free.  For example you could add : 
 bag of chips  = $2.85
Simply7 Jalapeno Lentil Chips 4 Ounce bag
walnuts = $2.92
Diamond Shelled Walnuts, 6-Ounce

 After adding those 2 items you'll get 20% off the entire order and it will now cost about $42.68.

You'll save a couple dollars and get a free bag of chips and some walnuts thrown in.

When you find the cheap items to pad your item count to five items I'd look for something you'd actually want and use rather than a throw away item.   Maybe you don't like lentil chips and walnuts so shop around for other items in the $3-4 price range. 

Additional cheap items to consider to pad your shipment:
Maxell 723807 LR03 2BP AAA Cell 2 Pack Carded Battery = $1.69 ( $1.44 with 20% off)
Colgate Classic Soft Full Head Toothbrush - 1 ea Colors May Vary = $2.44 ($2.07)
Playtex Handsaver Gloves, Large = $2.61 ($2.22)
Leon's Pantry Soft Dried, Apples and Cinnamon, 6 Ounce = $3.06 ($2.60 at 20% off)

Palmolive Bath Bar Soap, 3.2 oz.. Bars, 3-Count = $3.29 ($2.80)
Pop-Secret Homestyle Popcorn, 10-Count = $4.98 ( $4.23)
Ivory Original 16-Count: Bath Size Bars (4 Oz), 64 Ounce = $4.99 ( 4.24)

Tactic #2 - Adding more items for 20% savings all around

Instead of finding filler items just to get the discount, you could also find stuff you really want to buy and get them for a steep discount after considering the overall 20% savings.    Assuming I'm not necessarily interested in lentil chips and walnuts.

Rice krispy treats = $11.84
Rice Krispies Treats 40 ct variety pack
and
Raisin Bran = $7.95
Raisin Bran Crunch, 3 x 18.2 oz. boxes

Now my original total of $44.91 would be $54.48.   I could look at that like getting the rice krispies and raisin bran for $9.57 instead of $19.79 or basically 50% off.

Tactic #3 - Stocking up while you get the 20% off

Lets take another look at the shopping cart for tactic #1.    You buy your cat friskies cat food and they eat a can every day.   That 24 pack will last you less than a month so you have subscribe and save setup to send you 1 per month.    You've used tactic #1 to get up to 5 items and you're now saving 20% for your next shipment.  However you look forward to the next month and theres now only 1 item in that shipment scheduled which is next months delivery of cat food.   

May deliveries :
1 x Friskies for $9.24, Prilosec, Cheeze-its, Simply7 chips and Diamond Walnuts = 20% discount rate
June deliveries :
 1 x Friskies for $10.97
July deliveries :
1 x Friskies for $10.97
etc.

 You could instead increase your May delivery of Friskies to 3 packs and get all 3 at the $9.24 price.  If you stock up now at the 20% off price you'll save the extra 15% over the regular 5% for the June and July purchases.

To do this you can change your order frequency from 1 item every 1 month to 3 items every 3 months.    That will give you 3 items delivered in May that will last you for May, June and July.   Then after the fact for the August shipment you will probably want to change it back to 1 item every 1 month.


When does it work?

These tactics worth better in some situations than others.    If you've got 4 items in your order then its pretty easy to add 1 more item to get the 20% and profit.   But if you've only got 1-2 items then its a lot harder to get it to work.

This won't work well if you aren't already spending a fair amount.   With few items you will often need to spend around $50 to $75 or more to hit the point that saving the extra 15% is worth it.   The more items you have in your order then the more sense it makes.   If adding just 1 item will get you to 5 total then that can make sense with as little as $25 total cost.

Rough guideline formula to decide if its worth it:

If (5 - number of items in cart) x $2.50 >  ( cost of items in cart * 0.15) then its worth pursuing

For example say you've got 2 items in your cart that currently add up to $45.   That formula gives us
(5 - 2) x $2.5 = $7.50 versus ($45 x .15) = $6.75
In that case its not quite worth padding the cart to get the discount.   The discount on your current $45 is only going to get you $6.75 but you need 3 items to pad your cart and finding 3 different items for $6.75 its difficult.

I'm just using some semi-randomly chosen products on Amazon to illustrate examples of how this can work.   I don't know if any of the items I picked have good prices to begin with and you might get them cheaper.   These are just for example sake.

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