When you think of buying in bulk, Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club probably come to mind. But savvy shoppers know that pallets full of outsized merchandise are waiting for shipment in Amazon warehouses, too — and you might do better there than with the wholesale clubs that built their brands on big.
“If you’re looking to buy in bulk, Amazon is your best bet,” said Jamie Knight, CEO of Data Source Hub, a market intelligence and data trends provider. “Amazon’s pricing is usually better than that of other warehouse clubs — and it’s not just a matter of price. The company has an incredible selection, and its reputation for reliability means that it can deliver your goods faster if you order in bulk.”
There are several things to consider, and you’ll save money only if you milk Amazon for all it has to offer. Here’s what you need to know.
Costco and the others offer delivery, but they’ve had to adapt to try to keep up — and it shows in the quality of their shipping services. Amazon, on the other hand, built its brand on free two-day shipping.
“I would recommend bulk shopping through Amazon because the prices are usually about the same and the convenience outweighs the cost if there’s a small price difference,” said Joellyn Travis, founder of the Facebook shopping group Leave it on the Porch, which is a partner of Amazon, QVC and Zulily.
“With the price of gas and the fact that most people are very busy, the time saved ordering online and going out to a porch to pick up vs. finding a parking spot, finding the item in the store, waiting in line to pay, taking it out and then driving home is important in consumer’s decision-making process.”
Travis mentioned gas. Although the cost of fuel has retreated from its June high above $5, the average price per gallon is still over $4.60. If your local warehouse club isn’t so local, money saved on car rides never taken is not something to gloss over. This is particularly true when you’re hauling heavy bulk items — extra weight burns more gas.
Comparable Pricing and Better Selection
Convenience and free delivery are probably the biggest reasons to give Amazon a chance for your bulk shopping needs. Selection is a close second.
“I’ve used both Amazon and Costco, and I can tell you that when deciding if you should use Amazon for bulk purchases or not depends on what items you’re looking for,” said Jeff Colt, CEO of Aquarium Fish City, a media outlet for fish enthusiasts.
“If you’re looking for something specific or hard to find — like a particular brand of dog food or a certain kind of car battery — then Costco is probably going to give you a better deal. But if you’re looking for a place to buy large quantities of items at a discount, Amazon is worth considering.”
There are, of course, a few outliers.
“Prime shipping does ship bulk orders for free with a few exceptions,” said Lydia Boychuk, VP of marketing for More Labs. “Multiple labels for one order and shipment and orders from China.”
In those cases, Boychuk said, “Costco might be ideal if you’re not far from one and can pick up the things you need immediately. Go to Amazon’s help page for further information.”
In terms of pricing, most experts told GOBankingRates that Amazon is usually as good as or better than the big warehouse clubs.
“Admittedly, there are a few items where Sam’s Club has more competitive pricing,” said Kevin Huang, CEO of Ambient Home, a furniture retail and home upgrades company.
The Trick Is To Wring Every Dollar Out of Amazon
Amazon really starts to pay dividends when you leverage a trio of features that can supercharge your savings.
“You can do better on most bulk purchases by shopping at Amazon,” said Paul Moyer, financial coach and owner of Saving Freak. “But you will need to take advantage of Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service, Amazon Prime and the Amazon Rewards Visa card.”
The first gives significant discounts for automating repeat purchases.
“Amazon Subscribe and Save allows you to automatically purchase items you need on a set interval,” Moyer said. “The main benefit is they will give you a 5% discount when you subscribe to receive up to four items.”
Typical Amazon customers probably know about the 5% discount already, but bulk buying is where the savings really kick in.
“When you get five or more items on subscription, the discount goes up to 15%,” Moyer said. “Subscribe and Save also comes with free shipping.”
If you’re going to make Amazon your go-to destination, the upfront cost of a Prime membership is more of an investment than an expense.
“Amazon Prime costs $139 a year and has a host of benefits for those who subscribe,” Moyer said.
They include Amazon Music, Prime Video and Prime Gaming, but the most important perk of all, of course, is free two-day shipping.
The third piece of the Amazon trifecta is the retailer’s branded Chase credit card.
“The biggest benefit for those purchasing in bulk and looking to save money is that you can pair Amazon Prime with the Amazon Rewards credit card to get 5% off every Amazon purchase,” Moyer said. “Pair the cash back with Subscribe and Save and you are getting 20% off every item you purchase.”
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