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Savvy bargain-hunters will recognize a lot of similarities between Costco and Amazon.
Both retailers utilize an innovative membership model, offer two-day delivery on online orders, and sell items in bulk. Not to mention they both sell just about everything.
Shoppers love Costco and Amazon because of their reliable low prices and exclusive membership perks, but is one better than the other? We’ve got a rundown of the pros and cons of Costco vs Amazon when it comes to prices, products, and perks.
Let’s dive in.
Costco vs Amazon: Cost
Costco’s basic membership costs $60 a year while Amazon Prime costs $119 a year. Online shoppers can still utilize either retailer’s e-commerce services, but they’ll miss out on substantial savings.
According to Jack O’Leary, a senior analyst at Edge by Ascential—the world’s leading e-commerce provider:
“Amazon is great for finding individual items in an efficient and convenient manner, but in some cases can’t match the value bulk pricing delivers, the full basket shopping experience, and the discovery component of going to a Costco warehouse club.”
Comparing Costco vs Amazon, Costco’s bulk items are a significant factor in its ability to offer the lowest prices.
In a price comparison of 100 Amazon and Costco items across the household essentials categories of baby and pet, beauty and toiletries, and health, Costco was cheaper on 79 of the 100 items. For household staples specifically, Costco was about 25% cheaper than Amazon.
Price is important, but it’s not everything. Not every shopper likes to buy in bulk, and Amazon offers incomparable convenience. On Amazon, customers can get nearly anything they want quickly and without ever leaving their homes.
Costco vs Amazon: Selection
Let’s look beyond price and consider how Costco vs Amazon compare when it comes to their selection of essential products.
Most Costco retail stores carry about 4,000 different products in-store. That’s a far cry from Amazon’s catalog of over 12 million products. In fact, if you expand to all Amazon Marketplace sellers, the e-commerce giant offers more than 350 million products.
Obviously, quantity isn’t everything either, so let’s look at some of the major shopping categories to compare Costco vs Amazon.
Costco vs Amazon: Clothing
Amazon entices fashionistas with their Prime Wardrobe program.
Customers receive a seven-day try-on window for up to eight items they order and free return shipping for any items they decide not to keep. Amazon also offers a variety of name-brand fashion options.
On the other hand, Costco’s private label clothing brand, Kirkland Signature, boasts great prices, especially for office wear.
Costco vs Amazon: Electronics
Customers often turn to both Costco and Walmart when they’re looking for optimal savings on electronics. According to budgeting expert Andrea Woroch, Amazon consistently has fantastic deals on:
Amazon also has some of the best prices for tech accessories like:
- Charging cords
- Phone cases
- Tablet cases
- Laptop cases
While Costco also offers ultra-low electronic prices, Amazon ultimately has a far greater variety.
Costco vs Amazon: Entertainment
Costco just can’t compare to Amazon’s robust entertainment options. Prime members can stream thousands of TV shows and movies on Prime Video or access more than 2 million songs with Amazon Music. For an extra monthly fee, Prime members can even access Amazon Music Unlimited, which has over 60 million tracks.
Amazon also has a much wider variety of books; however, shoppers usually will find better prices on individual books at Costco. The retailer tends to cut prices on books that recently exited the best-seller list. Costco also carries special editions specifically published for their discount prices.
Costco vs Amazon: Food
Costco’s in-house brand, Kirkland Signature, helps them deliver some of the lowest prices on groceries. Their bulk deals promise the best value for customers, especially on nonperishable foods like:
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Soup
- Boxed Rice
Customers often also enjoy the experience of discovering new products and even trying free samples while shopping at Costco.
Although Costco might offer better food prices, especially on nonperishable goods, Amazon Prime members enjoy free Amazon Fresh grocery delivery with a minimum purchase of around $35. Members also receive the same service for free delivery from Whole Foods.
Costco vs Amazon: Health and Beauty
As with its grocery options, Costco beats Amazon in the health and beauty category because of its value pricing on bulk products. However, consider the hidden costs associated with bulk purchases.
Will you actually use those mega-bottles of mouthwash before they expire?
Customers who like to try new products will likely prefer Amazon’s convenience and wide range of products.
Costco vs Amazon: Prescriptions
As a part of their expansions, both Costco and Amazon offer prescription-drug services. These services are not tied to membership, so anyone can utilize them.
Costco has a Member Prescription Program with savings of up to 40 percent for people who are uninsured or whose insurance doesn’t cover all of their medications. The program even includes some discounts on pet prescriptions.
Amazon offers a PillPack program. Customers are responsible for their copays, but Amazon covers shipping, automatically takes care of refills, and sorts all of your daily pills into one packet.
For customers with good insurance and low copays, the convenience of Amazon’s PillPack program is hard to beat. Customers without insurance or with high out-of-pocket costs might prefer Costco’s Member Prescription Program.
One area that Costco beats out Amazon? Costco promises the best value on prescription glasses and contacts. They have in-house vision centers with qualified optometrists and incredibly low prices on exams, prescription eyeglasses, and prescription contacts.
Costco vs Amazon: Travel
Costco has an undeniable advantage over Amazon when it comes to travel.
While Amazon is not a shopping destination for travel deals, Costco Travel offers discounts to members for hotels, airfare, car rentals, all-inclusive resorts, group trips, cruises, and even ski lifts. Savvy Costco shoppers also can find admissions discounts of 30 to 50 percent for Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Legoland, and other major theme parks and resorts.
Costco Travel advertises sky-high margins because there are very few administrative costs associated with it. Business Insider reporter Kate Taylor even booked an $800 seven-day trip to Puerto Rico, including flights, transportation, and accommodation through Costco.
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As you’ve gathered, the battle of Costco vs Amazon comes down to what products you buy and the kind of shopping experience you prefer.
Costco’s prices vs Amazon’s convenience: it’s a matter of your personal shopping preferences.
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