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I’ve tried a few warehouse clubs, memberships, and stores known for saving you money over the years, but doing a Boxed review was a delight.
I like to try all my options and then filter my way down to one or a few that work for me, and I’ll be adding Boxed to my list.
I’m a wife, mom, writer with several projects going at once, and an anxious introvert who dislikes driving and shopping in crowded places. But I’m also responsible for meal planning, keeping the household essentials stocked, and fueling the people in my house with their favorite snacks and their beverages.
That’s where Boxed stepped in and saved the day recently.
Quick Thoughts on Boxed.com
I’m a fan of Boxed.com, even though I have a Costco membership. I didn’t need a separate membership to shop at Boxed. However, the prices were still comparable to what I pay at Costco (especially on days I need to use Instacart).
There are perks to purchasing a membership, but I didn’t. I don’t expect to use Boxed all the time, and it can’t entirely take the place of Costco for me. I recommend looking for a discount code before you shop. I had 20 percent off and free shipping.
Shipping was fast, and I could get essentials and snacks, plus some other things I can’t find anywhere else near me, in bulk. All this without fighting a crowd, driving across town, or maneuvering my car through a chaotic parking lot.
What Makes Boxed.com Stand Out
The significant thing here is that you don’t need a membership to get a fantastic deal. There are sales on top of that, like 15 percent off fall favorites, that aren’t exclusive to members.
Sometimes members will get special deals as an extra perk, but the general savings are for everyone. Membership holders also get two percent cash back on purchases and free shipping on anything over $19.98.
You also get to wait at home for your box to arrive–no traffic, parking lots, or crowds, and you can use that driving and shopping time on something else.
Who Boxed.com is Good For
I think shopping at Boxed.com makes sense for just about anybody. Even if you don’t have a big family or a ton of room to store bulk items, surely you have a few favorite snacks or could stand to save a few bucks on essentials, right?
Here’s a list of people who could benefit from Boxed.com:
- The introvert who feels drained from going to the store and needs to recover from a trip to a wholesale club (even more time lost)
- Busy people (that’s all of us)
- Parents who need to take several kids to the store when they go and would rather just…not
- People who don’t have a nearby warehouse club and won’t benefit much from membership when they can only go occasionally
- People who often need to have their groceries delivered via third party like Instacart or Shipt
- People without cars or with vehicles that don’t have enough extra space for what you’d like to buy (for example, if you drove an hour to stock up on all the essentials and some fun extras, too)
- Big families
- Someone who will be entertaining a large crowd (like an extended holiday gathering with family) because you may only need it once, and paying a membership fee to get discounted items in bulk wouldn’t make sense
- People who honestly would rather do anything but go to the grocery store or a wholesale club (me!)
- People who like to be prepared for anything (If you survived The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, you know how valuable scoring a deal on a huge number of Charmin rolls can be.)
What to Expect from Boxed.com
At first, I thought Boxed.com would just send dry goods and household essentials. I didn’t realize how much more they had to offer.
A Little of Everything Food, Personal Care, and Home Essentials
Compared with what I’m used to seeing at warehouse clubs, Boxed is lacking in books, clothing, furniture, and things like that. However, they have a variety of snacks, groceries, office supplies, personal care items, health and wellness items, baby items, pet food and care, seasonal items, and even alcohol.
In some cases, I could find things I can’t find near me, like specific feminine hygiene products and the crunchy bacon bits my daughter likes. If you’re struggling to find items, Boxed.com might have them.
Frozen, Fresh, Dairy, and Deli Items
This option may not be available everywhere, so be sure to check by putting your zip code into the site or app before you get too excited. This works like Instacart or Shipt. Shoppers select your items for you from a nearby store and deliver them to your house. You’ll need to tip them (it’s optional, but still).
Here’s another way to save money that not every store offers. Save five percent and get free shipping on items you schedule to ship regularly.
The Shopping Process
Once you set up your free account with your email address (no card number required), it’s like shopping anywhere else. You can search, browse, add to cart, adjust your quantity, and checkout. I never felt I was doing something wrong or missing hidden fees. It’s straightforward.
Ease of Use
Using the Boxed website or app is a no-brainer. It’s completely intuitive and shows you price comparisons against retail prices. It lists cost per item/ounce, so you can take that and easily compare across stores.
A Quick Pricing Breakdown
Let’s look at some comparisons. If you have a warehouse club membership, plan to shop at a specific store soon, or just have one or two places you always shop, use your personal shopping list to do a true side-by-side comparison. See if Boxed.com makes sense for you when you buy those specific items.
This is just meant as an at-a-glance comparison across several options:
Chomps Grass-Fed Original Beef Sticks
Chomps Grass-Fed Original Beef Sticks, which I like to buy, are $2.30 each (a package of 10 for $22.99). They’re $2.79 in the one store near me, Sprouts, that has them (not available in 10-packs). On Boxed.com, you can also subscribe and save to save five percent.
Charmin Toilet Paper
Sometimes I skip Costco and get 24 Mega rolls of Charmin at Target because I’m going there for other things. Right now, it’s $24.99 there. On Boxed, it’s $28.99–$27.54 if you subscribe.
Boxed doesn’t win here unless you’ve got a discount code, like the 20 percent you get when you first sign up. In that case, it’s a little less than it is at Target ($23.19).
If you shop on Costco.com, you’ll get 30 rolls for $29.99. The price per roll between Boxed and Costco is about 21 cents, but in this case, you’ll need to spend more overall at Costco because the 24-roll package isn’t listed.
Bounty Double Rolls (12-Pack)
Here’s another one of those things I try to stock up on when I can. I know we’ll use them eventually, so it doesn’t bother me to buy them in bulk. I didn’t buy any this time, but I would get them from Boxed in the future.
At Boxed.com, they’re $24.99. They’re $28.99 on Costco.com and $25.13 in the Instacart app, so Boxed is a clear winner if you want them shipped or delivered to you.
They could be a little cheaper at the store, but then you’d need to factor in time, gas, and stress if your store is chaotic like mine usually is.
I was excited to see three of my favorite Larabar flavors in the same box at Boxed.com. I got the best flavors but didn’t get the best deal here. Instead of 20 for $15.99 like they have at Sams.com (80 cents each), I got 18 for $19.99 ($1.11 each).
If you don’t want a Sam’s Club membership, you can still shop online as a guest, but they’ll charge a 10 percent service fee. The bars would come in at 88 cents each then, still less than other stores.
Individually, Larabars are $1.53 each at Publix (through Instacart), or I could get a box of six (one flavor) for $6.99 at Target, which breaks down to $1.17 per bar.
I’d rather pay a little extra and get flavors I’m excited about so I don’t toss them later. I prefer variety packs, so I don’t get sick of the same flavors daily. In this case, Boxed still wins, even though the price per bar isn’t the lowest of all the options.
Everything Bagel Blend
My family loves this stuff. I remember when we could only get it at Trader Joe’s, which wasn’t a short drive. Now you can get it almost everywhere, Boxed.com included.
The 9.1 oz bottle is listed for $7.03 on the Boxed site. You’ll save even more if you set it up on AutoSave at Boxed. I can’t find it at Costco, but I found a different brand at Sam’s–7.5 oz for $4.38, but you have to buy two at a time.
The price per ounce is better at Sam’s, but if you’re on a budget, you might prefer to spend $7.03 over $8.76.
Barilla Chickpea Pasta
I got a six-pack of Barilla chickpea pasta, a mix of rotini and spaghetti (8.8 oz. boxes). I always buy this stuff, but it’s expensive for pasta. When I make it, I usually use two boxes at a time and make enough for more than one night.
At Boxed, it’s listed at $16.99 (I paid $13.59 after the discount).
Without the discount, it’d cost $2.83 per box. BJ’s has a four-pack of rotini for $8.79, or about $2.20 per box.
The price is a little better, but there’s no variety. At Target, the boxes of rotini and spaghetti are $2.99 each.
For some reason, I felt like I placed my order and was in limbo for a while, like I should’ve gotten a shipping notification sooner than I did. When I looked back at my order details and the following emails, though, the timeline worked like this:
- I placed the order on Sunday.
- The order received email came on Monday (maybe the delay here is what threw me off).
- An email thanking me for placing my first order came on Tuesday.
- My order also shipped via FedEx on Tuesday.
- My order arrived on Thursday.
Between placing the order and the email I got on Monday, I wondered if my order had gotten lost. The timeline wasn’t bad. I don’t know why I felt like it was lagging.
Shipping was free for me with the discount code I used. It will vary if you don’t have one, or you can get it free if you spend $49.00 or more. Members only have to spend about $20.00 to get free shipping every time.
It was packaged well with cute extras:
As I mentioned, you don’t have to have a membership. You just have to sign up for a free account to see what they offer. If you want extra perks, like two percent cash back on purchases, free shipping on orders $19.98 and up, and access to special sales, you can do that for $49.00 a year.
For comparison’s sake, you can get a Costco membership for $60.00/year or a Sam’s Club one for $45.00. If you’re interested in shopping at BJ’s, their lowest tier is $55.00. If you want to skip memberships, you can sign up for a Target RedCard and save five percent on everything.
Need to order a lot online and want various extra benefits on the side? Amazon Prime could be the way to go. You can sign up for a Prime membership that goes far beyond grocery delivery perks and will give you access to Fresh and Whole Foods deliveries.
Just make sure your area’s covered first. Remember that you may have to pay delivery fees, and you’ll want to tip the driver.
Are they Aggressively Emailing Me Now?
I hate when I sign up for something and then get bombarded with emails trying to get me to come back and buy more. I’m happy to say, Boxed.com isn’t obnoxious about it.
They’ve emailed me every few days since the Wednesday after my order. Still, compared to the way some sites will send more than one per day, Boxed’s emails are barely even registering, but in a good way.
I know they’re there, so I can browse through them if I want–or click for deals when I’m ready to shop again, but they’re not coming at me at such a fast pace I wish to unsubscribe.
- Availability of items, as long as we’re talking groceries, health, personal care, baby, pet, and some home items.
- The membership isn’t necessary to shop there, but you can save more if you buy one. (If you shop there frequently, the two percent cash back and free shipping probably make it worth it.)
- It takes a reasonable amount of time from when you order to when your box shows up at the door. It’s not overnight or two-day, but I still had mine in less than a week.
- The membership is one of the more affordable options and continues to save you money because you get cash back.
- There’s an app, so you can add items to your cart and even check out when you’re away from your computer. I love shopping while I’m waiting in car line at school. Multi-tasking at its finest.
- The AutoSave option saves you more and keeps you from running out of things without thinking about it.
- They don’t have the clothes, books, etc., that other options do.
- The savings weren’t as dramatic as I’d hoped, once I dove into the math. With a newbie discount, it’s definitely worth it. Then how much you save boils down to a lot of other factors–sales, what you actually need, whether you’ll need to have things delivered no matter where you shop, shipping cost, whether you choose AutoSave, etc.
- It’s not as fast as Prime, Instacart, or Shipt.
- Membership isn’t as valuable as some of the others out there–you don’t get cheaper gas, access to free entertainment (for example, Amazon Prime comes with some movies, shows, books, etc.), or discounted optical services and prescriptions. Most of these perks from other clubs come with expensive memberships, though, so membership worth is something each individual and/or family will need to consider.
- Ordering cold items could be stressful, but I haven’t tried this option. Rescheduling these deliveries isn’t as easy as it is with Instacart. You’ll need to email them as soon as you know you need to reschedule. In other apps, you can just go in and edit the time as long as the shopper hasn’t already started.
Why I Wanted to Try Boxed.com Even Though I Have a Costco Membership
Bottom line: I like to try everything. To take it a little further, though, I was curious when I heard about it, and they offered me 20 percent off my first order. I knew with that, I could definitely save more than I could at Costco.
The offer popped up when I was stretched especially thin and exhausted, so adding a trip across town to Costco was a no-go.
The parking lot scares me, and the crowd overwhelms my anxiety-prone, introverted self. I’m more of a Target-and-latte-at-8:00-AM kind of gal. Call me basic. I have never wholeheartedly adapted to this suburban mom role, but I do my best.
Costco serves its purpose, and I appreciate it, but I must strategically plan my visits. I’m not even joking–I go on Google to see when their busiest times are and whether they’re more or less busy than usual (and I will avoid it if it says more). Sometimes I tack extra time onto my trip to go to a less busy one.
I was out of a few things that I always have a hard time finding, so I did a quick search, and lo and behold, they had them! I quickly grabbed those, some essentials, and some snacks to round out my cart. I didn’t want to waste the 20 percent off on just a couple of things.
So Boxed it was, and while they won’t completely replace Costco and I won’t spring for a membership there, they’ve won me over. I’ve added them to my list of places to shop.
How to Shop on Boxed
Shopping on Boxed.com is easy peasy! Set up your free account and take note of your coupon code if there’s one shown on the box that pops up asking for your email address.
Use the search bar if you’re shopping for specific items, or browse using the categories at the top of the page to add items to your cart. You’ll see the breakdown of how much each item costs and how much you save compared to the retail price.
Add to cart, check out (don’t forget your discount code), and wait a few days.
Other Options to Consider
I most directly compared Boxed.com to Costco because I’ve had a Costco membership off and on for most of my adult life. I was looking at it from the angle of saving money and being able to buy in bulk so I could avoid going to the store as much as possible.
That said, there are a few different ways to compare Boxed to other options, based on:
- Price, even if you don’t get items in bulk
- Whether membership is required
- Extra perks that come with a membership and make paying an annual fee worth it
- The convenience of having your items show up at your door
- Access to things you can’t find in your area
Costco does require a membership to shop in the store, but you can supposedly make that money back via coupons, discounts, and cash back (if you opt for the tier with cash back, but that’s a whopping $120.00). You can shop online without a membership, but you won’t get the discounts.
- You’re supposed to get coupons in the mail that almost cover your membership fee. I never got mine, but if you do, that levels the playing field between Costco’s membership price and using Boxed.
- They sell clothes, books, and more extras. It’s fun to go in and wander around on the rare occasion it’s not busy–you can find some great things there.
- You get a discount on gas.
- They will ship to you, and they’re on Instacart, too, so you can have items delivered as soon as the same day. Of course, there are additional fees associated with that.
- There’s hot food to eat on the spot–my husband loves the hotdogs. I’ve heard the ice cream sundaes are good, too.
- The membership is $60.00 at the lowest tier.
- Going to the store can be a nightmare for an anxious or introverted person because it tends to be busy and involve long lines.
- If you take a guest with you (it’s allowed), you’ll have to foot the bill for what they buy and have them pay you back.
- If you shop on the site and you’re not a member, you won’t get the same discounts as members (this is a pro for members, but not if you’re casually trying to shop as a guest to check it out.
I feel Costco and Sam’s are the warehouse clubs that get the most attention. This is the one my family used when I was a kid. Their prices are impressive and they do beat most other options–as long as you’re a member.
- They have some of the lowest prices when you break it down to a per-item or per-ounce comparison.
- The memberships start as low as $45.00, but you’ll miss out on many perks if you don’t upgrade to the $110.00 option.
- Free shipping on most things for members
- Curbside pickup is available.
- If you shop online as a guest, they tack on a 10 percent service fee to the total.
- The memberships with extra perks are expensive, and I’m not sure the lowest tier membership is worth it.
BJ’s Wholesale Club
I’ve only been in BJ’s once (there’s not one close to me), but I know it’s a competitor with Costco and Sam’s Club, so here’s what I gathered:
- The lowest tier of membership price isn’t that much different than Boxed. To get more perks than coupons, you’ll need to shell out $110.00 per year.
- You can get cheaper gas at some locations.
- If you spring for the mid-tier membership ($110.00, so a lot more than Boxed), you’ll start to earn two percent cash back.
- Teachers, staff, educators, and service members get discounted memberships.
- These don’t seem to be as widespread as other wholesale clubs.
- Inventory may be limited because these stores tend to be smaller than Costco and Sam’s locations.
We often shopped at Aldi when the budget was especially tight after my husband was laid off. Before that, we’d never been. Other grocery stores were right outside our neighborhood, so we never felt the need to venture further. Once we discovered what a little hidden gem it was, we didn’t stop going.
- You can save a lot of money on everything and buy more even though it’s not officially sold in bulk.
- You can find Aldi on apps like Instacart and/or Shipt, which means you can have them delivered. This will cancel out some of the savings, though.
- The stores have always been clean in my experience.
- You can find interesting and exciting things that you might not find anywhere else.
- You’ll probably see brand names you don’t recognize more than the ones you do, but it’s what’s inside that counts, right? It just becomes a problem if you have specific favorite brands for certain things; you might not be able to find them here.
- You’ll have to remember a quarter because that’s how you unlock a cart to shop with. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back. This cuts their costs a bit–they don’t need to pay anyone to gather carts from the parking lot.
- You’ll bag your own groceries, ideally in bags you remembered to bring from home. If you forgot, you can purchase reusable bags at the checkout. You’ll just load your groceries back in a cart and take them to your car to unload them. This isn’t really a “con” as much as just one more thing to remember as you mentally prepare to go to the grocery store.
This isn’t a discount club, so to speak, and you do need a Prime membership to have Fresh orders delivered. However, suppose you already have a Prime membership or you’ve been tempted to try it out. In that case, it’s worth checking the inventory.
You can shop through Fresh or Whole Foods. You also get a small discount if you shop in person at Whole Foods and scan your QR code in the app.
- Their hours are incredible. You can have your order arrive exceptionally early–I’m talking 5:00 to 7:00 AM–or as late as 11:00 PM.
- With the membership, you get free ebooks, the ability to stream certain shows and movies without an extra fee, free (fast) shipping, photo storage, and more.
- With a Prime membership, there’s almost nothing you can’t get your hands on. To shop on Amazon (outside of Fresh for delivery), you don’t need the membership, but you can get things much faster with it.
- Two-hour delivery is available.
- It’s a separate shopping cart, so if you hoard things in your Amazon cart like it’s your wishlist, don’t worry; you won’t have to dump it out to place your grocery order.
- It’s expensive and not worth it just for grocery delivery. You’ll need to be interested in several other benefits they offer with a Prime membership to make it make sense.
- Not bulk items. Just delivery and convenience, with an in-store discount if you go shopping yourself.
- I’ve had trouble finding delivery times that worked for me in the past, but I think that was because of the pandemic. More slots are available now, though it’s not wide-open.
Instacart’s not a direct comparison to something like Boxed.com. Still, it’s worth mentioning here because shopping is easy, and you don’t have to step foot in the store.
- You can get your items within hours or schedule delivery days in advance. It’s all about the convenience factor here.
- If you don’t have time to shop in the store, you can save money by choosing the pickup option. Someone in the store will shop for you, then you drive to the store, and they load up your trunk for you. You may get cash back on these orders. I’ve been shopping at Publix this way, earning between $3.00 and $7.00 back for most trips.
- You get access to several stores–and several kinds of stores. You can even get makeup from Sephora on there.
- You can keep a running grocery list in your cart throughout the week, then add anything else you need at the last minute before you check out.
- You can add to your order after you’ve checked out, as long as the shopper hasn’t finished shopping and checked out.
- They’re good about refunds if something is wrong with your order.
- To use Instacart, you’ll need to pay a monthly or yearly fee.
- If you’re having groceries delivered, you’ll need to tip your driver.
- Prices are higher in the app than in stores most of the time. How much higher seems to vary a lot.
- Letting someone else choose your produce for you can be a little unnerving. I’ve gotten moldy berries and not-great zucchinis more than once.
Answer: CEO Chieh Huang started Boxed in 2013.
Answer: They buy from manufacturers and sell straight to consumers.
Answer: Though some perks come along with the Boxed membership, it’s not a requirement to access the discounted prices.
Answer: Boxed is $49.00/year.
Answer: In a way, yes. GeekWire reported that Costco is letting Boxed sell its merchandise in its app. So Boxed isn’t owned by Costco, but they’re working together.
My Final Verdict
I recommend Boxed.com. Unless you already have a membership elsewhere that you’re happy with and/or have go-to items you buy in bulk that Boxed doesn’t carry, I think it’s the way to go.
That’s especially true if it’s a drive or a major inconvenience to get to your local wholesale club. Still, sometimes Boxed makes sense even if that’s not the case.
No one store is going to give you the best deal on every item, every time. The one that makes the most sense for you will depend on how often you’ll use additional perks, shopping frequency, and yearly spending. The best thing about Boxed is the lack of a required membership to shop there.
Depending on how often you’ll shop there and what you’ll buy (especially what you buy with your first-time buyer’s discount), you might come out way ahead with Boxed, even though their prices aren’t substantially lower across the board.