Don't get me wrong — I love me some Costco, but I don't have one conveniently located near where I live. I try to squeeze in the occasional Costco trip whenever I happen to have an excuse to drive out of the way to one or I'm home visiting my parents, but it doesn't happen all that often.
So when I heard about Boxed, an online bulk shopping site looking to give warehouse stores a run for their money, I knew I needed to give it a try. Here's what I learned — and what I loved about it.
1. There's no membership fee.
You can sign up for the Gold Star membership on Costco's site for $60 — or you can shop on Boxed without paying a membership fee.
2. It's pretty easy to get free shipping.
If you spend $19.99 on your first order, you'll get free shipping. On the subsequent orders, you'll get free shipping when you spend more than $49. If you don't hit that total (something that probably won't happen all that often), shipping is $6.99. Most orders arrive within two business days.
3. You can still get fresh produce, dairy, and that sort of stuff.
Looking for bananas, frozen appetizers, milk, or ground beef? Boxed offers Boxed Express, which includes all those sorts of things and more if you're in an Express-eligible zipcode. A Boxed Shopper will hit up a local store for you and deliver it to your door during a time slot of your choosing.
4. And you can still score free samples!
One of the best parts of a Costco shopping trip is trying out all the free samples. Luckily you don't miss out on that with Boxed. There's a whole Free Sample section on the site, where you can pick up to two things to add to your box for free. When I wrote this story, the site was offering a two-ounce bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Body Wash and a stick of free-range turkey jerky.
5. Their private-label brand is spot on.
As loyal as shoppers are to Kirkland Signature, Costco's private label brand, I think folks might really like Prince & Spring, Boxed's option. The packaging in the line has an impeccable minimalist design, and the stuff is legit good. I tried the brand's quinoa, hand soap, and kitchen trash bags, and would 100 percent buy all of it again.
6. You can still get Kirkland Signature.
Whether or not you fall for Prince & Spring, you can still, somehow, order Kirkland Signature items. The site offers plenty of Costco items including Ancient Grains, doggie dental chews, and the irresistible cashew clusters. Even Costco's famous rotisserie chickens are available through Boxed Express.
7. There's a reward system.
You'll get one percent in cash rewards on the total price of your order for every purchase. Who doesn't like free money?
8. The company is doing some impressive things.
I'm not sure what's more impressive: The fact that the company offers full-time employees unlimited maternity and paternity leave, the founder will pay the college tuition for employees' kids, or the company gives up to $20,000 for employee's weddings.
Shoppers can even buy feminine hygiene products at a discount (and sometimes tax-free based on your state) to fight the Pink Tax (the name given to the high prices companies charge for female-targeted products compared to male-targeted products).
9. You can make returns.
Just because you buy something online doesn't mean you're stuck with it. If you're unhappy with an item upon receiving it, you can request a return and, within 72 hours, you'll get a prepaid return label in your email so that you can ship it back on the company's dime.
Have you tried Boxed? What did you like or not like about it?