clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Looks Like Groupon Wants to Take on Costco (And Amazon Pantry, Too)

Groupon Basics offers steep discounts on bulk buys. But the selection leaves a lot to be desired.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Last summer, Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky said he wanted the merchandising and curation of Groupon’s growing Goods business to resemble Costco’s more than Amazon’s.

Well, he wasn’t kidding.

Groupon today unveiled a new category of goods for sale, dubbed Groupon Basics, that’s supposed to appeal to the kind of bulk-order buyers that frequent the Costcos and Sam’s Clubs of the world. The target customer may also overlap with that of Amazon Prime Pantry, a new service that offers the delivery of everyday household items, some in multipacks, to members of Amazon’s Prime subscription service.

The Basics category currently lists for sale items such as three-packs of dietary supplements, six-packs of soap refill containers, and 12-packs of napkins. Overall, the selection is pretty meager right now, with only about 100 products for sale. If Groupon really wants shoppers to make a habit of checking out Groupon before shopping elsewhere for household goods, that number needs to grow. A lot.

And it will, according to a Groupon spokesman, who said the offering will eventually include more packaged and canned groceries as well.

On the whole, Groupon has been adding new products to its Goods business at a fast clip this year. In August, Groupon Goods listed fewer than 600 items for sale. Today, that number is approaching 5,000.

The next challenge is to get these goods into customers’ hands faster and more cheaply. Groupon Basic orders can take up to 12 business days to arrive; that’s a lifetime in an e-commerce world dominated by Amazon’s two-day shipping.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.