Boxed Wholesale vs Costco: Is Boxed Cheaper Than Costco
Boxed wholesale vs Costco. Have you ever wondered if Boxed is cheaper than Costco, or vice versa?
I have two reasons for writing this this blog post on Boxed wholesale vs Costco. First, I recently moved. After living for years with two Costco locations an easy drive away–and getting used to wholesale shopping at Costco–we moved to a place where the nearest Costco store is a good 45 minutes away.
The second reason I decided to write this blog post? The PR folks from Boxed.com reached out to me. To be honest I wasn’t familiar with Boxed. Therefore, I had never considered it as a replacement for my Costco warehouse club membership. Hearing from them gave me a good excuse to reflect on the value of my wholesale club membership fee, plus educate myself–and my readers–on possible alternatives.
My Costco connection
Full disclosure: Costco is actually a client of mine. If you have a Costco membership, then you’ve likely seen their magazine. It’s called Costco Connection. I write for that magazine. In fact, this year I’ll have had three articles published in the magazine, including two cover stories.
Also, full disclosure: I’m going into the writing of this blog post believing that Costco is one of the best warehouse clubs out there. One big reason–Costco is the top seller of organic foods in the United States. Costco sells more than even Whole Foods. That’s a brand you automatically associate with certified organic food. Our family likes to eat organic whenever possible. Thanks to Costco, we’ve been able to enjoy a lot of organic products. This ranges from fresh fruit and vegetables to dairy products to strawberry preserves and peanut butter.
What is a warehouse club?
Before I get into the details of Boxed wholesale vs Costco, let’s step back and provide the definition of a warehouse club or a wholesale club. Those phrases are often used synonymously or interchangeably. Think of this as a warehouse club review.
Warehouse and wholesale clubs emerged in the late 20th century as a way to allow Americans to buy in bulk. So the term warehouse or wholesale was more about the quantity of the products you could buy at once, not necessarily that you were paying wholesale prices. It was a way for everyday consumers to go wholesale shopping and buy large quantities of items for their home or office without having to have a corporate account.
You may recall one of the earliest warehouse/wholesale options–Price Club. Turns out Price Club and Costco actually merged in the 1990s.
Which wholesale club is best?
As I mentioned earlier I may be a bit biased in saying that I believe that Costco is the best warehouse club. It’s not only because they are my client. I do believe that my wholesale club membership fee is worth it, because Costco actually gives it back to me each year.
What do I mean by that?
It’s not like I have an official Costco membership discount. However, I did sign up for an executive membership, and that membership has privileges. The biggest privilege is the fact that I earn money back on my purchases and get a rewards certificate at the end of the year. My membership fee ends up being a wash in that I’m earning back what I’ve spent to join Costco each year–sometimes even making a profit, if you will.
But back to the question of which wholesale club is best? Well, I believe the answer is the that the best wholesale club is the one you use and which membership you get your money’s worth paying for.
Costco vs Sam’s vs BJ’s
For years when the nearest Costco store was not very near at all, we joined other wholesale or warehouse clubs that were closer by. This included Sam’s Club and BJ’s.
One of the benefits to a BJ’s warehouse club membership is that you could use coupons to save on purchases. I know at Costco you cannot use coupons, though Costco does offer in-store discounts from time to time. But I loved being able to use coupons whenever possible to save, and so when we had our BJ’s membership, I did enjoy that benefit.
Let me give one more plug for BJ’s Wholesale Club–if neither Costco or Boxed is right for you. Here are additional benefits to a BJ’s membership:
- Savings of more than 30%* off supermarket prices
- Acceptance of ALL manufacturers’ coupons, plus BJ’s own digital coupons accessible on the BJ’s App
- Convenient one-stop shopping
- Huge assortment of product categories for home and business
- Thousands more products online at BJs.com
- Convenient Buy Online and Pick up In-Club with orders ready in 2 hours
- Same Day Delivery at everyday club prices. Groceries delivered to you in as little as an hour
I had no idea that you could shop online and have groceries delivered to you with your BJ’s Wholesale Club membership. Wow!
What is Boxed?
So what is Boxed? Boxed.com enables customers to buy wholesale goods online at Boxed.com or from its app on any iOS or Android device. The company gives users access to deals typically found at warehouse retailers and allows them to do wholesale shopping without an annual membership fee, long lines at checkout or lugging home bulk goods.
Boxed’s goal is to take the hassle out of warehouse club shopping by delivering big-sized favorites to homes and offices. Boxed provides a curated selection of everything from children’s snacks and cleaning supplies to household staples and health and beauty products to groceries and green products. Boxed carries mainstream favorites along with a wide range of carefully selected premium and up-and-coming brands.
Costco vs Boxed
As I mentioned the whole reason I decided to write this blog post was to compare Costco vs Boxed. Driving to Costco is no longer something I can do at the last minute. So when the PR people from Boxed reached out to me and challenged me to compare Boxed vs Costco, I jumped at the opportunity.
That challenge started with them sending me a shipment from Boxed. It included many of the items I would normally buy at Costco, such as toilet paper and paper towels. The shipment also included snacks that are available at Costco but which weren’t on my regular shopping list. Those were items like Cheez-Its, and Halloween candy bundles from Mars and Hershey.
Now that I had my Boxed samples, I wanted to compare Boxed vs Costco prices. I wanted to answer the question, “Is Boxed cheaper than Costco?” So that meant a field trip to one of the Costco locations I’d found near where we’d moved. I brought the Boxed.com packing slip with me so I could look at the Boxed prices and compare them with the Costco prices in the store.
Boxed wholesale vs Costco prices
When I visited the nearest Costco store, I determined that of the two dozen or so items that the Boxed PR people had sent to me, I could find fewer than 10 of the items in person at Costco. I wanted to do an apples-to-apples comparison, if you will, so unless the brand was the exact same or the quantity was nearly the same, I didn’t compare prices.
Here are the three items I found exactly, and their respective Boxed vs Costco prices
|Item||Boxed Price||Costco Price|
|La Croix Variety Pack||$10.99 for 24 cans||$7.89 for 24 cans|
|Milanos||$9.39 for 20 count||$8.99 for 30 count|
|Cheez-Its||$11.99 for 44 pack||$10.99 for 45 pack|
In addition, in my Boxed shipment, I received two gigantic bags of snack-sized candy–perfect for Halloween. This included a bag of Mars chocolate favorites, which was $17.99 for 135 pieces in an almost 70-ounce bag, and a Hershey’s all-time greats, which was $16.99 for 105 pieces in an about 40-ounce bag.
Costco did not have the exact same Mars-Hershey combination but a close enough comparison. At Costco I could have gotten a 92-ounce bag of Mars candy for $13.99 and an 80-ounce bag of Hershey candy for $14.99.
Toilet paper and paper towels worth talking about
Like Costco Boxed seems to have its own brand or generic version of products. Because I normally stock up on toilet paper and paper towels at Costco, I was interested to see how the Boxed prices and quantities stacked up. And the result? On paper products, the price was pretty much a wash.
Whereas 30 rolls of the Boxed brand (Prince and Spring aka P&S) toilet paper was $16.99, the Costco brand Kirkland 30 rolls of toilet paper was also $16.99. Nearly the same thing with the paper towels. P&S paper towels from Boxed came with 12 rolls for $16.99; at Costco it was 12 rolls for $15.99. FYI, right now those same P&S paper towels are even cheaper–$14.44!
So even though the prices are wash, here’s where Boxed comes out on top. The toilet paper and paper towels are AMAZING! You might not think about paper products falling into the amazing category. However, in addition to have gigantic rolls that match or beat the ones from Costco, they paper is so soft. I mean really soft. Like the toilet paper is something you would expect to find in a high-end hotel. If you care about the softness of your toilet paper and want to get it at a great price, I would definitely recommend shopping for toilet paper and paper towels on Boxed.com.
Best of all–with your first order on Boxed, you get 15% off + free shipping. Just use the code LOVEBULK
Costco in-store pricing versus online
Now keep in mind that my apples-to-apples comparison of brands was from an in-person visit to the nearest Costco store. So the prices represented above aren’t 100 percent apples to apples in that they are online versus in store.
So what happens when I shop on Costco.com? Did you even know you could shop on Costco.com? Yep. However, you do need your Costco membership to do so and not incur a 5 percent, non-member fee.
There is no Costco membership discount for just shopping online. That means you’re looking at a fixed, annual cost of at least $60 for a household membership. My Executive Membership costs double that. But, like I said, I get two percent back on my purchases. I more than make up the $60 extra I’ve spent for that level of membership.
So let’s take a look at some of the items that I comparison-shopped in person. Let’scompare the prices on the Costco website. This should answer the questions, “Is Boxed cheaper than Costco?”
|Item||Boxed Price||Costco Online Price|
|La Croix Variety Pack||$10.99 for 24 cans||$7.89 $9.49 for 24 cans|
|Milanos||$9.39 for 20 count||$8.99 $10.79 for 30 count|
|Cheez-Its||$11.99 for 44 pack||$10.99 $11.99 for 45 pack|
Clearly, in some instances Costco is still cheaper than Boxed. But if you add in the five percent surcharge for not being a Costco member, then Boxed becomes very competitive on pricing alone.
Pros of Boxed
When you sign up with Boxed, you won’t have to pay a wholesale club membership fee. Also, you get free shipping on your first order. Boxed says most orders arrive within two days. I think Amazon has primed us all to expect this kind of fast shipping.
Boxed runs sales from time to time. Plus, you can purchase alcohol via Boxed, if you live in the “right” states. Sometimes sales focus on liquor purchases, too.
From 11/16 to 11/30, Boxed is running a Cyber Sale. You’ll get up to 25% off on specific products site-wide.
Cons of Boxed
On every order after your first order, you can earn free shipping but you’ll need to spend $49. If you don’t mind meeting this threshold when shopping, then it’s no big deal.
Pros of Shopping Costco Online
You can now shop online for groceries and other fresh items on Costco.com via Instacart. Costco says there are about 2,000 grocery items that qualify for the Instacart delivery. That’s definitely a pro. But there are some cost drawbacks, which I’ve outlined in the “cons” section below.
Also, if you have an executive membership like I do and use your Costco VISA card to pay, you’ll be earning two percent back just like you would have in the warehouse. So if you use it often, you’ll easy get back whatever membership fee you’d paid to join Costco.
Like Boxed Costco does run sales from time to time. It’s just like the sales that you’ll see when you visit one of their warehouse clubs. Usually is $2 or so knocked off the price of something popular.
Finally, given the expansion of items available on Costco.com, now you can shop on Costco anytime. That means even if no Costco locations are near you and if you want to shop outside of regular Costco business hours. That’s super convenient in my book.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner – time to start planning your Thanksgiving menu! This holiday comes with A LOT of meal prep! You can save time this Thanksgiving and order all the ingredients you need for a delicious turkey dinner from Instacart! They’ll deliver in as little as one hour!
Cons of Shopping Costco Online
While that Instacart grocery shopping option is a great addition, you will pay more for using it.
Here’s what the Costco site had to say about that:
All Groceries Including Fresh & Household Supplies
Delivery in Most Metropolitan Areas
Prices are higher than your local warehouse & include service & delivery. The order minimum is $35.
Keep in mind that if you use Instacart with other grocery retailers, you will likely be paying a delivery fee of some kind or a tip. So to be fair to Costco, using Instacart overall comes with its own fixed costs.
Even as a Costco member, I paid shipping when I recently placed an order on Costco.com. Because I did not spend $75, I paid $15 for shipping. Also, certain non-perishable items incur a separate delivery fee if you don’t spend at least $75. That 45-pack of Cheez-Its shown in the comparison above? If my order didn’t add up to $75 and the Cheez-Its were in it, Costco would have charged me $3 extra for them. That would have brought the price up to $14.99, making the Boxed prices way cheaper than Costco’s.
Also, keep in mind that these were the prices I found as a logged-in Costco member. If you shop on the site without a membership, add five percent to all of the prices.
Only members can request two-day shipping or delivery. Everyone else gets their order when it gets there.
Final Thoughts on Boxed Wholesale vs Costco
The whole reason for writing the Real Sophisticated Consumer blog is to help you get the most value for your time and money. Sometimes that doesn’t mean simply going for the lowest price. However, if you can pay less for good quality products that will last a long time–and don’t take a lot of your time to acquire–then I’m all for it. That’s why I believe Boxed.com comes out on top for paper products. Hands down.
On the non-perishable front, with Boxed wholesale vs Costco, well, it’s a toss up. If you’re using your Costco membership just for paper products or other items of a similar value–and you’re going online to shop anyway–then shopping through Boxed might make sense.
As I mentioned earlier Costco is the largest seller of organic products in the United States. If eating clean and green is important to you, then you’ll make the trek to Costco. On a recent trip to my nearest Costco store, I purchased organic honey crisp apples, organic salad greens, organic milk and organic strawberry jam.
Time really is money
Time really is money. Shopping online is convenient. If that’s how you’re already doing your grocery shopping–maybe using Amazon Fresh through your Amazon Prime membership or utilizing Peapod grocery delivery service–you might want to give Boxed a try. See how it stacks up with what you’re used to doing for your shopping.
One last thing on the time issue. If you don’t have the time to go to one of the Costco locations, then you’re not going to use your warehouse club membership. So that’s a waste of money. Like I said at the beginning of this article, the best warehouse club is the one you’re going to use. And if you pay for a warehouse club and never go, definitely sign up for Boxed to get all the benefits without the membership fee.