Head’s up! Boxed.com is currently undergoing an ownership change and the service is not available, but they say they will be back. Stay tuned.
Routine grocery shopping is on my all-time top five least favorite things to do.
So I was thrilled to hear about Boxed – a company that delivers groceries and household essentials, in wholesale club sizes, to your door at tiny prices … without a membership fee.
It’s not that I hate the grocery store. I enjoy planning a meal and picking up fresh meat, produce, and a bottle of wine. But those big shopping trips to stock up for a week or two at a time? I’m rarely organized enough to remember everything. Or this happens:
Once, halfway through a Target shopping trip, after tossing a dozen items into my cart, I reached for the shopping list I had left on top.
It wasn’t there.
Then, I noticed something odd. Wait … I didn’t pick out a women’s bathing suit. Or Tostitos. No, this was not my cart.
I sheepishly backtracked until I found my abandoned cart waiting patiently in auto care. I never saw the other shopper – I couldn’t help but wonder if I caused her to mistakenly question her own sanity, too. Which brings us back to why Boxed is so awesome.
What is Boxed?
Boxed is a grocery delivery service that promises discount prices on the same items you’d buy at the grocery store. The site features a curated selection of products geared toward the company’s customer base. In addition to its own brand, Boxed offers products from big names like Tide, Dole, and Pampers.
How does Boxed work?
The products from Boxed come in bigger quantities (think of membership clubs like Costco or Sam’s). In addition, Boxed offers a curated selection of products. So Boxed is far from an anything-under-the-sun competitor to Amazon or your local Walmart.
Instead, Boxed offers a small selection of what they consider to be the most useful and highest-quality products.
As I said above, Boxed doesn’t require a membership to use their service, so the sign-up process is ridiculously easy. It’s just like any other purchase you make online.
You can create an account and then start shopping!
How much does Boxed cost?
Boxed doesn’t charge a membership fee for its basic plan, but you will have to pay for shipping for orders that are under $79. Since you’re buying in bulk, it doesn’t take much to reach $79.
For free shipping on all orders, you can upgrade to Boxed Up, which costs $39 for the first year and $49 for each year thereafter. If you plan to be a frequent shopper, this is a solid deal.
When it comes to online shopping, there are plenty of options. Here are a few features that make Boxed stand out.
Free shipping (most of the time)
Boxed offers free shipping on your first order and on most orders thereafter.
It has modest minimum-order requirements to get free shipping, depending on where you live. For example, it’s a $50 minimum order to get free shipping in New York and a $79 minimum order in many other states.
By limiting their product selection, Boxed can also keep prices low.
Time and gas money saved
Where I live, a simple Target run is a 25-mile round trip. That’s a gallon of gas (and a dollar toll), plus an hour or two out of our precious weekend.
Boxed might not replace every big shopping trip, but it could save me from going as often and shrink my list when I am there.
I also like the “less is more” approach to the curated product selection at Boxed. I do not need to choose from 65 different kinds of shampoo! Decision fatigue is a real thing. (And, I suspect, it contributes to why I get so spacey at the store.)
No impulse purchases
Can you get in and out of Target, Walmart, or a grocery store without buying something that wasn’t on your list?
Four out of five times, I buy something in a store on impulse.
To me, a real advantage to shopping for most of my essentials on Boxed is avoiding the temptations lurking in retail aisles.
Real savings on products
To my surprise, the savings were actually significant – at least for some items.
- A 500 count of Ziploc sandwich bags were $9.79 on Boxed; the same item cost $16.84 on Amazon.
- A 24-count box of Clif Energy Bars was $18.99 on Boxed compared to $29.11 on Amazon.
- Honey Nut Cheerios on Boxed list for $7.49 for two 55-ounce boxes ($0.07 per ounce). That’s half of Amazon’s price for the same quantity. When I checked, Walmart didn’t sell that size package, but a single 26 oz. box cost $4.48 ($0.17 per ounce).
- One item Lauren goes through a lot of are Neutrogena Makeup Remover Pads. Boxed sells 114 for $15.49 ($0.14 each) compared to $4.31 for 25 ($0.17 each) at Walmart and Amazon.
- The 28 oz. bottle of Sriracha that was included in my Boxed shipment also sells for less on Boxed ($2.39) than at Walmart ($2.98).
- A 48 oz. jar of Skippy Peanut Butter was $5.99 on Boxed. Prices on Amazon ranged from $17.49 to $21.00 for a two-pack (or between $8.75 and $10.50 each). At BJ’s – a local wholesale store here on the East Coast – you can get two jars for $9.99, or about $5 a jar.
- Diapers – something we’ve used plenty of over the last few years – were more competitive. Calculating the cost per diaper to account for different packaging sizes, the prices for Pampers Swaddlers on Boxed were about what we pay at BJ’s. Pampers prices for general Amazon shoppers were higher, but Amazon offers Prime Members certain deals that shave a penny off the Boxed price ($0.28 vs. $0.29 per diaper).
After checking out prices for most of the items I received, I’m quite convinced that you’ll score some great deals at Boxed.
No membership fee
While the prices of some items are on par with what you can find with a paid Amazon Prime or wholesale club membership, remember, Boxed doesn’t charge a membership fee, which is a nice saving all by itself.
My experience using Boxed
I’ll be honest: When I first heard of Boxed, I was skeptical. Although I obviously prefer online shopping, I’m already an Amazon Prime customer, and I thought that had me covered for “get anything you need with free two-day shipping.”
But after seeing the stuff Boxed sent me (and experiencing my recent Target debacle), I realized: Though I could buy granola bars on Amazon, I never do. Or paper towels. Or sunscreen. That’s the stuff I routinely slog through big box stores for. And, as it turns out, Amazon doesn’t always have the best prices on these kinds of things anyway.
Typical things you might find in my box
- Clif Energy Bars (24 Count Variety Pack).
- Bounty Paper Towels (12 Super Rolls).
- Aveno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion (2 x 20 oz. Bottles).
- Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (28 oz.).
- PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter (16 oz.).
- Honest Co. Sunscreen Lotion (2 x 2 oz.).
- Polar 100% Natural Seltzer (24 x 12 oz. Cans Variety Pack).
- Ziploc Sandwich Bags (500 Count).
- Greenies Dental Dog Treats (130 Count).
Who is Boxed best for?
If you live far from a grocery store, the savings on gas, not to mention the value of your time, makes Boxed well worth it.
I’m not a fan of grocery shopping. If you’re like me, you’ll love being able to shop from the comfort of your couch. Put an order together and soon after, a box will arrive at your door.
Even if an item costs a little extra, it’s worth it to me to have groceries delivered. I can make fewer trips to the store and, when I do shop, I’m usually only picking up perishables and a few items Boxed doesn’t carry.
Boxed offers competitive prices, even when compared to wholesale clubs like Sam’s and Costco. You’ll see some of your favorite brand names, along with low-priced products from Boxed’s own brand, Prince & Spring.
Who shouldn’t use Boxed?
The first thing I noticed when I started shopping on Boxed is that selection is limited. There’s a reason for that. Boxed keeps its prices low by carefully curating its stock. If you’re open to trying new brand names and going with what’s offered, Boxed will be a good fit, though.
Those who enjoy shopping
Let’s face it. Shopping online doesn’t replace the in-store experience. I’m not a fan, but I know many people who are. If you like to travel the aisles with a cart, buying what inspires you, you may not get enjoyment out of buying groceries online.
Those in cramped living quarters
Even if you live alone, you can benefit from buying certain items in bulk. However, if you have nowhere to store all that excess inventory, you may want to stick with buying in smaller quantities from your local grocery store or a site like Amazon.
Pros & cons
- No membership cost — You’ll enjoy fee-free shopping and, as long as your order totals $79 or more, free shipping.
- Cost savings — Many of the products on the Boxed site are priced below what you’d pay at your local grocery store.
- Easy to use — The site makes it easy to find and choose the products you need.
- Order minimums — Unless you pay the annual fee for Boxed Up, your order will need to total $79 or more to qualify for free shipping.
- Bulk quantities — Products on Boxed are sold in bulk, which means they’ll take up more space in your cabinets and closets.
- Limited product selection — Although there are plenty of products available in each category, if you’re picky about brand names, you may not like Boxed.
Boxed vs. competitors
|Company||Subscription fee||Items delivered||Time to deliver|
|Boxed||$0||Snacks, beverages, household items, baby products, home and office||2-3 days|
|Grubhub||$9.99 per month||Local restaurant food||Within an hour|
|Postmates||$9.99 per month||Local restaurant food and groceries||Within an hour|
There are other options for ordering food and other groceries online. Here are some of Boxed’s top competitors.
Grubhub is one of the more established food delivery services in America, featuring more than 365,000 restaurant partners in over 4,000 U.S. cities. Grubhub offers a variety of special perks and discounts — especially for new users.
- Exclusive perks and discounts
- Access to local favorites
- Offers both pickup or delivery
- Some perks limited to Grubhub+
Grubhub is a well-known name in local restaurant delivery. Available in most major metropolitan areas of the U.S., the company works with local delivery drivers, who pick up orders from participating restaurants.
You can pay a $9.99 monthly fee for unlimited deliveries or pay a variable fee for each order you place.
Postmates is another restaurant delivery service, but it differentiates itself from competitors by also delivering groceries. Depending on availability in your area, you can have everything from paper towels to dog toys delivered to your door in less than an hour.
You’ll have the choice of a monthly $9.99 subscription or per-order delivery fee.
Boxed provides low prices on big sizes of a curated selection of everyday items (mostly groceries, household supplies, and health and beauty items) with no membership fees.
They provide fast and free shipping on your first order (and most subsequent orders ship free).
Boxed features weekly deals and regular promotions to keep things interesting.
I can genuinely say that I will likely order from Boxed going forward. My wife and I have two kids, a dog, dual careers, and an older house needing TLC. This is a busy period in our lives. Saving time on weekend trips to two or more stores is enticing. If we can save money at the same time, it’s a no-brainer.