- Costco and Sam’s Club are popular retailers that sell bulk foods, housewares, cleaning supplies, furniture, and more.
- I tried the Costco and Sam’s Club shopping apps to see which one offered a better experience.
- I liked aspects of both mobile apps, but I thought Costco’s was more user-friendly for people who aren’t members of the store.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When it comes to bulk shopping experiences, few places compare to Costco and Sam’s Club. Both retailers offer plenty of deals on some of your favourite items, from grocery to home goods.
I’ll admit that I’ve been a long-time Costco fan, having been a regular customer since childhood. But I also know that the Sam’s Club app is fairly popular with many consumers. These days, plenty of folks are doing more of their shopping online, including via app. Many people also use store apps to find even greater savings.
I decided to give both apps a test drive to see which one did the best job of presenting consumers with great deals, important information, and any additional perks. Here’s how the shopping experience went, and which bulk retailer came out on top.
First, I opened the Sam’s Club app, which greeted me with information on how to scan items directly on my phone and pay for them in order to skip the line.
I closed the info box and found the initial screen. Search bar is on top, which is helpful since we all generally need that to find items quickly.
I decided to search for a pretty basic household staple: cereal. You can either type out your search, scan the item, or enter its UPC code. I chose to type it out.
It promptly showed me all their cereal options, and also featured filters for online only and in-club only items, as well as a way to sort (it defaults to relevance, but you can also sort by top sellers, price, and customer rating).
I tested them all, and each feature worked just fine. As you can see, customers really love Cap’n Crunch Variety Packs — and who can blame them?
I clicked on the cereal to see what additional information the app would provide. This included things like shipping info and pick-up info as well as the product description and specs.
I then clicked back to the list of cereals and also noticed that some, but not all, items include a little shopping cart icon to the right of them. This is for putting the item in your shopping cart in order to have it shipped.
But some items don’t have this option, and when you click through them (like this box of Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries Granola), the app prompts you to select a Sam’s Club location rather than add to cart.
This opens to a section where you can input your city, state, or zip code in order to find the nearest Sam’s Club that carries your item.
Once that happens, an Add to Cart button appears under your item so you can add it to your shopping cart and pick it up at that location.
Back on the app’s main page, I decided to scroll down and see what else they had to offer. There were sections with titles like “Shocking Values.”
Other sections included a clickthrough about shopping for school basics and “Expert Picks,” which featured items like food storage containers and gravity water bowls for pets.
I also found other categories for tires, gift cards, and new items, which I assume exist because this is what Sam’s Club finds people seek out most.
Many features in the app require you to sign in to your Sam’s Club account, such as the Scan & Go feature, lists, and photo center.
There’s a handy pharmacy feature, where you can refill and transfer prescriptions, see your prescription history, manage your family’s prescriptions, and even find out about prescriptions.
The app also includes a Tire Finder feature where you can locate your nearest Sam’s Club and look up your car’s particular tires. You can search by vehicle or tire size.
And finally, they have got a section for sending feedback that works anonymously. I sent feedback without having to log in.
Next, I tested to see how Costco’s app compared. First, I opened it up and saw a pop-up letting me know you could now view your membership card in the app. That definitely comes in handy.
Swiping out of that, I found a similar design to the Sam’s Club app, with a search bar up top and the shopping cart at the top left. You can also add your delivery zip code just beneath the search bar, and there are some rotating offers just below that.
Just like with the Sam’s Club app, I opted to search for cereal. It sorts automatically by best match, but you can also sort by price, rating, and date added.
You can also filter by two-day delivery, category, price, brand, and even dietary features.
I decided to click on Kosher, but it immediately began to search without allowing me to click a second filter option. I added an additional filter for trans fat-free, which ran the search a third time. Apparently, Cheerios are even better for you than I knew.
And so I clicked on Cheerios and found that the item included additional information like the nutrition facts and ingredients, plus the delivery fee.
It also included additional product details, specifications, and warranties and other services, which is likely for more household items like television sets.
I decided to add my cereal to my cart and it went in with ease.
I viewed my cart and saw that I would need to add nearly $US70 worth of items to avoid the $US3 delivery fee. Seems a bit extreme, but OK.
But once I tried to check out, it prompted me to input my Costco.com account information.
I next decided to click on the top left-hand menu, where you can browse various departments like back to school, electronics, computers, appliances, and more.
I opted to click on their tires section, and found a similar form to that of Sam’s, asking for the year, make, and model of car, among other criteria for finding the right tires. But this one also had some additional search criteria, like searching for your tire via your Licence Plate.
It also allows you to search by tire size (if known), or item number. I suppose this could be a bit handy.
Costco’s app also has a few other features on a bottom bar, like savings, which takes you to a new section where you can see member-only savings, online-only savings, in-warehouse and online hot buys, and more.
I appreciated not having to log in to an account in order to read about the savings.
It doesn’t entirely explain it, but you can “clip” these savings as coupons by sliding the product to the right. It feels slightly buggy though and not as smooth as you’d like it to be.
And when you do “clip” your coupons, they apparently save in a list on the top right-hand side. You can add more items to your list by simply typing the name of it, and then clicking on the word “Savings” beside it.
I added “cereal” and then it brought me over to find two coupons for cereal that I could also virtually “clip.”
You can find warehouses by location with the app as well.
You can also access its photo resources.
Its pharmacy includes information on refill status and prescription transfers and where to find pharmacies.
You can also find information about their member-only services, like life insurance, home and auto Insurance, bottled water delivery, and more.
Costco’s app also has an anonymous feedback section.
Overall, while I felt that the Sam’s Club app did the best job in user experience for those who have a Sam’s Club membership, while Costco’s app was generally more user-friendly for just about anyone.
On Costco’s app, users can create lists and search through many of their features without having to sign in. This allows users to get more familiar with Costco’s deals, and therefore might prompt them to want to actually obtain a membership overall.
I did get a bit frustrated at some of the aspects of Costco’s app, like the way its “back” button sends you to the shopping cart instead of back to the last thing you saw, but it clearly offers more overall for its members and potential members. This makes Costco the definite winner.
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