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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Mobile Apps

Boxed Wholesale app: Warehouse shopping without the annual fee

Love to buy in bulk? Boxed brings big-box club shopping to your phone or tablet. But are the savings really there?

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Wholesale clubs promise to save you money on popular household goods, provided you're willing to pay an annual membership fee, buy items in (often comically large) bulk sizes, and devote half your Saturday to crowded aisles and slow-moving lines.

Boxed Wholesale brings bulk shopping to your mobile device -- it's available for Android and iOS -- the idea being to give you the same savings as a big-box store, but without the membership fee. Or the long drive. Or the exhausting Saturday afternoon. (Also not included: free food samples. Which, considering my impulsive nature, is maybe a good thing.)

A quick perusal of the Boxed app reveals many of the same things I find at my local Costco: a two-pack of Multi-Grain Cheerios ($7.99), a 54-count box of Keurig Starbucks House Blend K-Cups ($39.99), Milk-Bone Flavor Snacks (8 pounds, $11.99), and so on.

These are all dry goods, of course -- there's no produce in the mix, nor anywhere near the selection of a Costco or even your local grocery. But Boxed does have a growing selection of organic products, and most orders ship free. The first one does, anyway, though there's a minimum purchase on subsequent orders if you want to bag free shipping. (The amount of that minimum varies by state, according to Boxed's FAQ.)

The app lets you browse various categories (Household, Grocery, Kids and Diapers, and so on) or search for specific items. There's also a Stuff on Sale section where you can hunt the deepest price cuts.

I will note that it's a little tough to comparison-shop unless you're actually strolling through, say, a Costco while looking at Boxed. I do know that the aforementioned box of K-Cups, for example, sells for $31.99 at Costco, and in fact was on sale for $28.99 just this past weekend. But Boxed sells a 250 square foot roll of Reynold's Wrap tinfoil for $7.99; a two-pack of the same from Amazon would run you close to $20.

In other words, there are savings to be had, even if not every item is available at the absolute lowest price. Ultimately you're getting the convenience of bulk shopping from the comfort of a handheld app. I'm not saying you'll want to give up your Costco membership, merely that Boxed can save you a lot of time stocking up on things you use regularly.