- Costco and Boxed are both bulk retailers that sell pretty much everything.
- Boxed has been called the "Costco for millennials" because it's an online-exclusive store with mobile ordering and speedy delivery. Costco also has an online store and mobile ordering, but its prices can be as much as 20% more there than in the physical warehouse stores.
- Costco shoppers can shop online without a membership, but a 5% surcharge is applied at checkout.
- The websites themselves have some obvious differences, and we found that one was much easier to use than the other.
Unlike Costco, Boxed is digitally native. It has mobile ordering and one-to-three-day delivery. It also offers free two-day shipping if you spend more than $49, and it doesn't require a membership to make a purchase.
Costco has an online store in addition to its physical warehouses, but products across all categories tend to cost more online than in stores. Though the website allows shoppers to order from Costco without paying for a $60 annual membership, a 5% surcharge is applied at checkout. However, Costco has been taking some steps to reach more millennial shoppers, like offering two-day delivery through Costco Grocery and one-day delivery through a partnership with Instacart.
One of the most clear differences between Costco and Boxed is that Boxed members don't need to pay an annual fee to access the savings. But the company did recently launch Boxed Up, a premium service that costs $49 a year and provides shoppers with perks like free shipping on orders over $20, 2% cashback rewards, and price matching with competitors.
Both websites offer major savings for bulk shoppers, but upon trying both, I found one was easier to use than the other. See what it's like to shop at each:
Costco was the first site I went to. On the homepage were members-only savings deals, buyers' picks, and a selection of different featured products in a variety of categories.
Boxed had a cleaner look. Though there weren't quite as many categories, it was easy to find everything because the existing categories were pretty broad.
The Boxed grocery landing page is much more user-friendly. The homepage lists popular products, and on the lefthand side are categories like salty snacks, chocolate and candy, condiments and spices, and other more specific categories. Products can also be sorted by brand on both websites, and both offer two-day delivery.
Comparing prices isn't an exact science. For example, both sites sold Tide laundry detergent. Boxed sold a 150 oz. package for $19.99, and Costco sold a 200 oz. package for $28.99. The price was higher, but you were getting more for what you paid.
Costco: 200 oz. for $28.99
Boxed: 150 oz. for $19.99
As for the snacks, the prices seemed to be a little bit higher throughout Costco's site.
Costco's private label, Kirkland Signature, was an exception to this. Boxed also has a private label, called Prince & Spring, but it was almost always more expensive than Kirkland Signature for identical products. A 27 oz. jar of almond butter from the brands' respective private labels, for example, was $3 more expensive from Boxed than from Costco.