Thursday, November 19, 2009

Purchasing Toilet Paper Online

There's something faintly ridiculous with ordering deodorant and trash bags online and having them shipped to my home. It feels a bit lazy and excessive. But, it's not.

I came across a website last week called Alice, a quirky online retailer that sells every day household items. Their thinking is that certain items (detergent, paper towels, toothpaste) do not require much thinking during the consideration process, since consumers are pretty brand loyal with many of the products that they use.

Alice offers free shipping on all items, which is a major benefit. While shipments require at least six items, they will send them to your front door at no cost.

I signed up with Alice and placed an order about 5 days before the items actually arrived at my house. Sure, this requires a bit of planning, but it's not much of an issue. Alice also lets customers set reminders for when they will need to repurchase, say, shaving cream (I set all of mine to "no reminder," as I'm pretty confident that I'll be aware of when I am running low).

I compared prices on the items I purchased at Alice with those on Peapod (the local delivery service for Stop & Shop). I located 5 of the 7 items on both sites, and Alice actually cost 9 cents less for the common basket of goods. Factoring in the Peapod delivery charge ($6-$7, plus a minimum purchase, I believe), Alice is definitely a good deal in this comparison.

Of course, I could always still buy these items at the grocery store during my weekly trips. But then again, perhaps I could reserve my in-person shopping trips for fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, and dairy, which would in turn expand my shopping options and not limit them to the larger grocery stores. I love buying produce at local farmer's markets. Perhaps Alice might lead to fewer grocery store runs altogether.

I suppose that if I find household items on sale while I'm already at my local Shaw's, then I'll pick them up there. But my brand of napkins are not always on sale when I need them. Sometimes, it's full price or nothing.

Now, Alice isn't exactly going to be sending me a turkey and fresh butternut squash for Thanksgiving (while Peapod can), but that's not a problem. That's not their role.

My brand of toilet paper is my brand of toilet paper - it's a utilitarian product.

I would imagine that in some major urban downtown areas - Manhattan for example - where the cost of goods are probably far greater than in the suburbs, that Alice is a welcome alternative. I can see some major cost savings for New Yorkers.

I'm not totally sold on Alice, but I have no reason to dislike them yet. Their website is easy to use, their social media presence is helpful, and their communications with me haven't been excessive. Perhaps after a few more shipments, they will become a necessary part of my existence.

1 comment:

The Fuz said...

If I took part in something like this in suburbia, does that make me lazy or efficient?