Ways Costco Online Shopping Differs From Their Warehouse

Updated March 21, 2024 by Kyle James

There are many clever ways to save money when shopping at Costco and I have detailed them on this blog in the past. But I’ve never really talked about the Costco website and some of the nuances within their online shopping portal. Costco has invested a lot of resources in their online presence in recent months and it may be time to price compare their website before making a significant purchase on Amazon. Here are 6 ways the Costco online shopping experience differs from walking into their warehouse with your Costco membership card in-hand.

Ways Costco Online Shopping Differs From Their Warehouse

Anyone Can Shop the Costco Online Website

While a Costco membership is required to enter their warehouse, anyone can shop the Costco website.

The only caveat is that non-members will be hit with a 5% surcharge during the online checkout process.

But the Costco online price is still often cheaper than Amazon making it worth paying the extra 5%.

Bottom line: I recommend price comparing and doing the math to see if shopping the Costco website (without a membership) makes sense for you.

See Also: Costco Gas Prices: Insider Tips To Save BIG at the Pump

Online Inventory Differs from the Warehouse

If you visit your local Costco, and see an item that you might want to purchase, be aware that if you go home and try to purchase it from the Costco website it may not be available.

This comes down to the fact that every Costco warehouse has slightly different inventory.

Sure they’ll all have the same toilet paper and dog food, but the seasonal items that you often find in the center aisles of the warehouse typically differ.

Bottom line: If you see an item in the warehouse that you can’t live without, go ahead and purchase it and don’t count on the Costco website having it.

Online Prices Can Be Higher than Warehouse

This one will come as a bit of surprise to many of you.

If both the Costco website and warehouse stock the same product, it’s often going to be more expensive online.

This price discrepancy typically comes down to the extra shipping and handling costs associated with online purchases.

This seems to be especially true if the item is seasonal in nature.

See Also: No Costco Membership? Here Are 8 Things You Can Still Do at Costco

Costco Offers More Products Online

To be specific, 10,000 online items compared to 4,000 items in the Costco warehouse, according to Bloomberg.

This makes sense as Costco warehouses are limited by their 4 walls while their online distribution centers are quite vast.

Even though the selection may be better online, Costco still prefers you to walk into their warehouse as they know you’ll spend more money in the long run.

“Costco Grocery” is Only Available Online

Costco Grocery

Costco currently offers a home-delivery service for grocery items appropriately called Costco Grocery.

The only way to sign-up and start getting deliveries is via their online portal.

They currently have 2 delivery options:

  • Same Day Delivery: Requires a minimum order of $35 and is available in most metropolitan areas. Expect to pay more for items than you would at their warehouse. With this option you can get fresh produce and perishable household items delivered. You must be present for delivery.
  • 2-Day Delivery: This option requires at least a $75 spend to qualify for free delivery. You can only select non-perishable items and household supplies.

Costco Grocery has been quite successful in recent months and is worth a look for the convenience factor alone.

See Also: The Costco Return Policy: 7 Ways To Make It Work For You

Be Aware of “Member Only Items” on Costco.com

Member Only Deal at Costco

To try and entice consumers to join Costco they offer some items on their website to “Members Only”.

They call them “Member Only Items” and they actually hide the item’s price from non-members.

You’ll see these items most commonly in these departments: Electronics, appliances, and computers.

Ask the Reader: What has been your experience with Costco online shopping? Do you find their website easy to use and the pricing to be competitive?

By Kyle James

Photo credit to Mike Mozart.


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very informative. thank you for writing this article.

Tom Kienlen

How do I go about ordering golf balls on line?

Kathe B

I was surprised that I ignorantly purchased a bottle of Krug at Costco for $199. That’s $20 more than the local wine store sells it for.

Shan B

Just about everything at Costco online is way too expensive, making it hardly worth while. Some items in are priced nearly 30% higher than warehouse prices. My supermarket offers home delivery free with an annual subscription of $75, which is lower than Costco, and they don’t cheat me with higher online prices. I have had executive membership for nearly 20 years, seriously considering saying Good Bye to Costco.


what does it mean in the Costco savings mailer when an item say +COSTCO.COM?


Costco customer lost and prevention team is terrible. They dont care and dont value long time customer. They don’t provide help and get to the bottom of my case. Final say they ask a ridiculous task that is not consumer obligation. Poor department


Joined for one year. First week I realized why I left in the first place. They treat customers like dirt. And I forgot that they don’t accept MasterCard. quitting again after year up.