What Is 1-Click Ordering On Amazon and How Does It Work?

Amazon became a household name by letting you order almost anything you could possibly want from a single website. Naturally, Amazon wants to make it as easy as possible for you to buy stuff. Arguably, their greatest innovation towards this end is 1-Click Ordering. The company has probably tried to push it on you already, but it’s worth knowing what it is and how it works before you do.

At a basic level, Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering is a simple way to set a default payment method and address for your orders. After choosing which credit card and address you want to use, you can click a single button, then sit back and wait for your stuff to show up at your door.

Amazon also automatically consolidates your orders based on their availability. Say you use 1-Click Ordering to purchase three items at once. Rather than charge you for shipping three times, Amazon will take a look at where your items are shipping from, how long they’ll take to ship, and if they can be grouped together. The company will consolidate as many items together as possible to reduce shipping costs.

However, Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering can get a little tricky. There are a few different types of 1-Click Ordering and turning one on or off may not affect any of the others:

  • Regular 1-Click Ordering: These settings apply to orders placed on Amazon’s website. They may also be used for orders placed through devices like the Amazon Echo.
  • Mobile 1-Click Ordering: Slightly confusingly, this is a separate feature for normal 1-Click Ordering. You can use the same credit card and address, but if you turn off Mobile 1-Click Ordering, it won’t affect your regular 1-Click settings, and vice versa.
  • Digital 1-Click Ordering: All digital purchases—such as ebooks, downloadable music, and digital game codes—are ordered using Digital 1-Click settings. This method uses a default payment method, but obviously there’s no need for a default address since there’s nothing to ship. You cannot turn off Digital 1-Click Ordering.

To set up your 1-Click settings (if you haven’t already), go to this Amazon page to enter a default address and payment method. Amazon will use that information from now on when you select “Buy now with 1-Click.”

Once you’ve placed any 1-Click order (aside from digital content) you have around 30 minutes to change your order before it’s placed. Amazon then checks which items it can group together, calculates shipping costs, and then sends your order out for delivery. Depending on how quickly some items ship (and whether you have Amazon Prime), your stuff could be shipped out within hours.

While this is convenient, there are some downsides. The most obvious problem with 1-Click Ordering is security. If you have 1-Click enabled on your phone and you lose it or it ends up in the hands of a child, there’s nothing to stop them from ordering stuff with your phone. You might even place an accidental order yourself when you’re not paying attention.

Some orders can also go through a little too quickly to change your mind. Say a child takes your phone and orders an item that qualifies for free one-day (or same-day) shipping. If you don’t spot it immediately, the order could ship before you have a chance to cancel it. After it ships, you’re not dealing with a cancellation—you’re dealing with a return. It’s happened before and while it’s not a nightmare, it’s certainly an inconvenience.

One of the most practical reasons you might want to skip 1-Click Ordering, however, is potentially increased shipping times. Amazon will wait up to three days to ship an item if it can be bundled with something else to save on shipping costs. Say, for example, you order items A, B, and C on Monday. Item A could ship immediately and could get to your house by Tuesday, while Items B and C won’t be able to ship until Wednesday. Amazon might (depending on where your items are shipping from) decide to hold off on sending you Item A until it can go out with Items B and C, meaning it could take extra days to get some of your stuff. If you place your order using the shopping cart manually, you get more control over when and how your items ship.

Of course, for many people, 1-Click is convenient enough to be worth the trade offs. If you order from Amazon frequently and dislike confirming the same information every single time, 1-Click Ordering can save you a lot of hassle. Though it might cost you more money in the long run if you have less time to reconsider that 2:00 AM shopping spree.

Eric Ravenscraft covers smarthome tech for How-To Geek. He's a problem solver who never learned to say no to a project. When he's not fixing things, he's cosplaying at cons, playing video games, and watching too many comic book movies. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.