Convenient dry goods delivery from Alice.com

A couple months ago, I was given the opportunity to be a beta-beta tester for Alice.com. (A gamma tester?) It’s a dry goods grocery delivery service where you place an order online and then have the items shipped directly to your home.

The prices are comparable to what you might find in a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, but the products are sized like what you would buy in a grocery store or pharmacy. All with the added convenience of not having to go to a store (and there is no charge for shipping). You can set up a shopping list and reminders, so that every few weeks or a couple times a year (you set the schedule) you receive a notification from Alice.com telling you that you might be getting low on toilet paper or deodorant or shampoo.

I’ve gone shopping on Alice, paid for my order, and received a shipment. For as much as I ordered, I was genuinely surprised at how little packaging they used. It all fit in a reasonably sized box and the box broke down easily to go into our recycling bin. Everything about the process was convenient.

And I think that is why I liked it so much. It’s convenient. I’m incredibly busy and the last thing I want to do is have to run to the store to pick up toilet paper when we inevitably run out at 10:00 at night. Now, I get a notice once a month asking me if I need toilet paper, and if my supplies are low, I order more. I make a few clicks with my mouse in less than a minute and toilet paper appears two days later.

Right now, since they’re still in beta, they’re only carrying the major brands. But, they’re in negotiations with smaller manufacturers to increase their inventory. They actually carried my favorite brand of all of the supplies I ordered, so I didn’t notice that anything was missing. During testing, though, I noted one or two types of products that weren’t on their inventory and poof! after I suggested the product it appeared on the list a few days later. So, I know they’re listening to consumer requests. The interface is easy to use, too, and these cute little cartoon people guide you through the site:

I think about my friends who have infants at home and barely have time to shower, and how nice it would be for them if diapers just appeared on their doorsteps. I think about my friends who live in downtown New York who have to take 20 minute train rides to get to the closest big box store, and how much time it would save them if their dry good items could simply be delivered. Since I buy the vast majority of my food through our local farmer’s market, Alice.com saves me from having to make a second shopping trip to the grocery store. It’s extremely convenient for busy people. It removes an errand/chore from my weekly schedule and allows me to spend that time doing something that matters more to me. It’s simple and uncluttered, for my life.

Granted, this service isn’t for everyone. If you like going to the grocery store and smelling products and first touching what you’re going to buy, then you won’t like getting your dry goods delivered. It also takes 15 to 20 minutes to put together your initial order (at least that is what it took me) which isn’t much of a time saver on that first trip. Subsequent trips are just seconds, however, since you have an established shopping list. Also, if you buy a lot of small production goods, it might take a while for those to become available as contracts are negotiated between Alice and those manufacturers.

What do you think about dry goods being delivered to your door? To me, it’s a lot like Netflix or Amazon, just with the specific grocery angle. If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, you can sign up for a free account and be a beta tester, too, at Alice.com. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

51 Comments for “Convenient dry goods delivery from Alice.com”

  1. posted by EJ on

    Do you have any sense how the pricing is, compared to a supermarket?

  2. posted by Celeste on

    It would be a great service for women on pregnancy bedrest. There is a site for them called http://www.sidelines.org and maybe some of them would be willing to be testers.

  3. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @EJ — The answer to that question will depend a great deal based on where you live. Compared to where I live in a DC suburb, the prices on Alice.com are lower than what I find in my local grocery store and pharmacy (they’re more similar to the prices I find in my Costco). If you live in Topeka, Kansas, you may not find that noticeable of a difference since overall costs are lower in grocery stores and pharmacies than they are here. Overall, I say that the pricing is very competitive, regardless of where you are located.

  4. posted by Gwyn on

    Alice seems to be very heavy on small-quantity, low-food-value packaged goods. Where’s my brown rice, dried beans, and TVP?

  5. posted by timgray on

    Pay close attention to the costs. I tried this back in the 90’s in Chicago with a different company (one of the dot-bombs) and things actually added up to us spending 35% more than if we went and did the shopping ourselves.

    It can become more expensive, and I’m betting that nothing is ever on sale or you cant use any coupons to save any money.

  6. posted by Carol on

    I may have to try this. The only downside I can see (w/o signing up)would be the lack of store-brand (generic)items. I buy a lot of those to save money. But for name-brand items this looks great. I’d want to compare prices to my current store first though.

  7. posted by Eric Hanneken on

    How does Alice.com compare to Amazon.com’s grocery store, which you wrote about last year?

  8. posted by Eric Hanneken on

    Correction to my previous comment: The article about buying groceries at Amazon.com was written by Jerry Brito, not Erin Doland.

  9. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Gwyn — They don’t carry any rice or beans at this time, as far as my searches show. If you’re interested in the service, I would definitely recommend that you suggest these products in their customer service section. As I mentioned, they’re just in beta and they have been very receptive to all suggestions I’ve made so far.

    @Eric — I like it better than the Amazon service for three reasons: 1. Free shipping on every order. 2. I’m only picking from dry good grocery and pharmacy items, so I don’t feel overwhelmed. 3. It tracks spending and savings on tables and charts in my account so that I can quickly review my budget and see where my money is going (primarily bathroom items). Overall, though, it’s the same concept. If you’re using Amazon currently, especially with a Prime account, I don’t know if you’d necessarily want to make the switch. If you don’t have a Prime account on Amazon, though, I’d switch to Alice just for the free shipping.

  10. posted by Sue on

    I went to the site & wanted to see if certain products were available & what shipping they used, but I couldn’t find a search without signing up…

    I live where I cannot get anything delivered without it coming via USPS. No way to let me know someone is at the door & no place to leave packages.

    I used to get my catfood delivered regularly via a now defunct pet store… prices were excellent! Love the idea of getting staples delivered & just getting perishables locally at the “pay too much” independent grocery.

  11. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @timgray — Your experience with the other company explains a great deal about why it went out of business! I’ve used coupons on every order with Alice, so it looks like they’re off to a better start than the dot-bomb you mentioned.

  12. posted by Lindsay on

    Do you have a referral code or email I can use to tell them how I heard about them? They ask for such a thing when I try to sign up. I don’t need it, just thought it would be good for them to know, or you might get some kind of rewards for it.

  13. posted by DJ on

    I think it would be marvellous. Currently, I shop at one grocery store for food (the only one in my area with semi-fresh veggies and fruits) and at Safeway for the dry goods we use.

    I’d love to cut out the trip to Safeway. I hate going inside that store and I already know what we use.

  14. posted by Lola on

    The more competition, the better for us consumers, so I hope Alice.com succeeds.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t carry the majority of the types of things that I buy (the bulk of my family’s shopping is done at Costco and Trader Joe’s and we don’t really buy a lot of name-brand products, so a few coupons are not really worth the trouble for us).

    I can, however, see Alice.com appealing to many Amazon customers who are annoyed at being forced to buy multi-pak items (like shampoo, toothpaste, etc) or a case of something in order to save money. Amazon didn’t used to be that way, but nowadays it’s nearly impossible to buy small, single purchase items and still qualify for free shipping.

    I used to be able to buy 1 bottle of shower gel, 1 bottle of shampoo, 1 package of dental floss, etc at Amazon and it was cheap and convenient to do my shopping there. Now, when I try to make the same list, the only items that aren’t supplied by third-party vendors (and thus qualify for free shipping) must be purchased in shrink-wrapped packages of three, or 12 packs, or a case instead of one. Sorry Amazon, I don’t want to spend $25.00 on floss or $18 bucks on shampoo. Not only is it more expensive, it’s also not even convenient anymore; I have to sift through so much clutter in their woefully unhelpful search results, I end up wasting more time than if I’d just gone to the store myself.

    I’ve gone back to shopping locally for these very reasons.

  15. posted by Convenient dry goods delivery from Alice.com | Unclutterer | Saving Money News on

    [...] the rest here: Convenient dry goods delivery from Alice.com | Unclutterer Share and [...]

  16. posted by may on

    I was shocked that they didn’t have boxes of baking soda. They have a ton of other arm & hammer products. I clean a lot of things with baking soda, so while I like the idea of the site, not having it is a ‘deal breaker’ for me to use it.

  17. posted by Consultant Calamities on

    Interesting concept. I may have to check it out. You said you can use coupons; i’ve turned into quite the coupon-er…how does that work?

  18. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Lindsay — At this time we have chosen not to participate in their affiliate program. So, don’t worry about giving us any “credit.”

  19. posted by Bella on

    This might sound like a soapbox, but some food for thought: personally, I like to support local businesses when I can. Like most of us, I am a busy, frugal person too, and I like to keep things in my life simple so I can enjoy time for stuff I see as a priority. However, I enjoy the personal interactions I have at local businesses and I like to think I am contributing, in a small way, to keeping them open in the era of anywhere-USA big box stores. I try to limit my errand days and keep a running list and piggyback errands so they don’t feel like such a burden. I DON’T have kids or elders living with me tho, so just sayin’ for me its a compromise I make willingly.

  20. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @may — All you need to do is suggest that they carry the item. That is the point of beta, to get feedback from test users. They’ll add the item if you suggest it.

  21. posted by Amanda on

    @CC- I’m a couponer too, that’s the first thing I thought of. I’d switch in a second if I could save on Alice like I do at my local grocery with coupons.

  22. posted by Carol on

    I took a look at the prices. For where I live (Memphis) the prices are so-so by comparison. I currently do all of my grocery shopping at Walmart (unless I just need a quick item or two). For the coffee I buy it’s several dollars higher on Alice but toilet paper is a couple of dollars cheaper. I like how they search for coupons for you though, since I can no longer afford the local paper.

  23. posted by Athena on

    I just placed an order for some staples that I like to buy in bulk just to have on hand so we don’t run out (i.e. deodorant, stain remover, bleach, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) and I think the prices are competitive for my area (Southern California).

    I’m not a big fan of the grocery store, Target, Costco or Walmart, so this kind of online shopping with free shipping is right up my alley, as long as I can get exactly what I want and the prices are in line.

    Thanks a lot for turning me on to this site. I hope it works as advertised.

  24. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I kind of look forward to my weekly shopping trip (yes, I’m a little weird), but this still looks like a great service for name brand stuff, assuming the prices are comparable. They don’t yet have many of the things I normally buy, but I will price compare on those they do carry on my Friday shopping excursion. Thanks for the link!

  25. posted by dc on

    Main page on Alice.com has price comparison with store names blanked out. Why put meaningless fluff on main page?

  26. posted by Sandy on

    As a longtime Amazon customer who is the proud owner of a lifetime supply of deodorant to get “free” shipping and am storing 12 bags of coffee, Alice.com is great. I appreciate only having to buy one of a certain item at a time. I placed an order with almost everything on my shopping list.

  27. posted by EconGrrl on

    In Houston we have a similar service, http://www.henleysfreshfoods.com/, but they deliver groceries too. They also shop from local producers as much as possible. I’m glad that these ‘staples’ delivery services are popping up all over. The more competition the better.

  28. posted by Marci@OvercomingBusy on

    I placed an order this morning and I already got an email saying my order shipped by UPS. I hate going to WalMart , especially with 2 little ones begging for every cheap plastic toy and bag of sugary junk they have stacked everywhere! The selection on Alice was pretty good on the items that I wanted and the prices were right in line with what I usually pay. I’m excited about Alice saving my time and my sanity!

  29. posted by Don’t Buy It Reader Question « Don’t Buy It on

    [...] Buy It Reader Question 24 06 2009 So Unclutterer suggested that maybe I would like Alice.com, which is a new dry goods retailer. It sounded good — free shipping of [...]

  30. posted by Beard5 on

    Thank you for sharing this. I just signed up. I truly hate going to the stores like BJ’s and Sam’s club for the best prices. It looks like the prices are comparable. Or, they’re at least close-enough that I don’t mind paying extra, to avoid going to the 3rd level of hell that is the big box stores.

  31. posted by Shana on

    Nope. The more people who do this, the fewer brick-and-mortar stores there will be. I make the conscious, deliberate choice to buy everything I can locally, to help stave off the big-box-ification of every last city, town, and village in America. We don’t need more ways to buy things online that can easily be purchased where we live, for goodness’ sake! Next thing you know, we’ll be able to order gas online and have someone come fill up our cars for us. It’s gone too far when you can’t be bothered to pick up some toothpaste & TP.

  32. posted by Soochi on

    I buy certain things like this at Amazon, and I get free shipping on everything. They have an excellent range of choices of name brands, too. I’m very happy with my experience at Amazon.

  33. posted by Soochi on

    Some of the things I buy, I can’t easily buy locally, or at least not reliably, such as special diabetic health bars, etc. They have them intermittently at the local supermarkets and, even then, not the full range of flavors. I do agree with buy locally when you can but it’s not always a good option.

  34. posted by Sandy on

    I do buy produce and perishables locally but are Walmart, Cosco, CVS and the supermarkets like Albertsons or Safeway local?

  35. posted by Barbara Tako on

    I like the concept of http://www.alice.com. I think they have more work to do: offer more products, provide more information on each product (for example, I couldn’t tell how many milligrams of glucosamine were in each tablet of a bottle I was considering for purchase).

  36. posted by Sarah S. on

    Thank you for this post. This website is a great way to supplement the natural, organic grocery store we use, as they do not carry everyday dry goods. With Alice, I have the option to continue shopping at the local store, without having to also patronize Walgreens and Target. My local market is supported, the chain stores are left out, and I don’t waste a whole day driving around. Stupendous!

  37. posted by Jessica on

    Based on the few items I selected, the prices are significantly higher than what I would pay at Target, so it’s not worth it to me, based on my household usage of these kinds of items.

  38. posted by Nancy on

    For me this looks fabulous, I live in a remote, rural area (population 400-500) and the local store is usually 100% higher than Wal-mart or the grocery store an hour away in the next larger town and I just can’t afford to over pay that much to support a local store. I also tend to be rushed when I am shopping out of town and being able to focus on fresh items and not worry about the staples will be a time/frustration saver.

  39. posted by Heather on

    The concept’s great but http://www.alice.com doesn’t carry everything I need so I’ll still have to hit Costco and the local market for supplies. I might as well pick up the rest of the dry goods there, too, since the prices are similar.

  40. posted by Alice on

    If you need a referral code to get the $10 credit, you can use 5B611678

  41. posted by CCherry on

    @Sandy- I argue that yes, even the big chain stores are local in that they employee local people and collect sales tax and pay property tax that supports the locale where they are.

  42. posted by Kat on

    I honestly don’t have the time to read even one of the 41 comments, but if it hasn’t already been suggested – diapers.com has been a lifesaver with 3 in diapers. They sell all things baby and shipping is free. I can order on Sunday and have a month’s supply by Tuesday. My UPS man swears that they can’t be diapers because they are so heavy!

  43. posted by Smallweed on

    Thanks for this, Erin. I’m trying it out; just placed my first order. I detest the amount of shopping needed to keep a family afloat. I’m hoping this will whittle it down a little bit. Less shopping = bliss.

  44. posted by Shana on

    @Sandy: yes, I consider them local, because they employ local people. My bigger point, I guess, is that the fewer people who shop at grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, etc., the fewer of them there ARE, and then you have a town with four Walmarts, two Home Depots, and no other options. The big-box stores are doing a fine job of taking market share from smaller and/or more local stores, and I don’t see a compelling reason to make the problem worse by shopping online for things that CAN be bought locally. I want to retain my option to shop in my town at specialized stores with better selections and (usually) more knowledgeable staff.

    I guess it boils down to what your priorities are. For some people, it’s price or convenience. For me, it’s using my dollars in the most socially and environmentally responsible way, to support my community. To tie it in to clutter, I’d rather see existing businesses succeed than see them abandoned and new big-box stores constructed, and more traffic congestion and fuel usage resulting from people shopping online for things they’re perfectly able to get in stores where they live. It just seems a bit crazypants to me.

    In the case of the poster with the special bars for diabetes, that I can absolutely see. I have no issue with buying things online if they can’t be found in town, but basic dry goods don’t fall into that category, and I think ordering a 20-lb. box of stuff that appears in a handful of local stores is wasteful, lazy, and encouraging our society to head down a bad road. Sure, it’s easy, and convenient, and whatever, but what if we ALL did what was convenient for us, with no eye toward the greater good? I’m thinking that the “every man for himself” thing played a part in this here recession we’re in….

  45. posted by Jakob on

    Shana, don’t the big box stores actually declutter a whole strip of independent stores?

    Many people clearly prefer them, or they wouldn’t be succeeding. This is the beauty of the fiercely democratic marketplace.

  46. posted by Derek on

    My wife compared some prices (as she purchases more pharmacy products) and noted that while the prices *seem* cheaper, the quantity is actually less than you can find at a store. While I like the idea, this is why stores break down prices per gram, per 100 capsules, or other equivalent quantity. Make sure you do the math and are sure of what you actually receive before you buy anything, from Alice.com or any other online retailer.

  47. posted by Kirsten on

    It is worth mentioning that Alice is only available to those US residents who live within the contiguous 48 states. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii are out of luck for the time being.

  48. posted by The Nerd on

    I am a single mother with a son in his “terrible twos”. I am very happy to have found this website for the simple reason that I have one less opportunity for him to throw a fit in public. As for those who say there are no coupons, I’m not sure if this is a more recent addition to the website, but there are “coupon” offers available in the form of limited-quantity savings deals. For example, today I bought a 4-pack of Bic men’s razors, normally $3.87, but the next 98 customers who purchased it got $2 off. Total checkout price, $2.01! Even if that wasn’t a great deal, I’m happy to have been able to save myself one major parenting headache.

  49. posted by Don’t Buy It Reader Question | frugility.com on

    [...] Unclutterer suggested that maybe I would like Alice.com, which is a new dry goods retailer. It sounded good — free shipping of [...]

  50. posted by BJN in TN on

    I am retired, diisabled, and living alone. Going to the store for anything is a chore for me. To be able to get the things I need by shopping online is like being in heaven. I can’t wait to use this site. As for meats, vegetables, etc., I order online from Schwan’s. Cost is a little more than grocery store. But delivery is free.

  51. posted by FJR on

    I love shopping online, love free shipping, so I thought I’d love alice.com. I didn’t. The selection just isn’t too good, and this is a year after the site was in beta. They seem to have a lot of big-name (expensive) products, but nothing for do-it-yourselfers – i.e. they have baking soda toothpaste and baking soda cat liter deoodorizer, but they have no plain old baking soda. Also no hydrogen peroxide, stuff like that. The real deal-breaker for me, though, is if I save up all my “dry goods” and add them to my Safeway online grocery order, the closer I can get to the magic $150 that is Safeway’s minimum for free delivery (as my household consists of myself and my 6-year-old son, we don’t usually spend this much on groceries in one or even two weeks). The great thing about Safeway is, not only can I get perishables as well as a much wider selection (not usually more expensive, especially if I buy generics, which I do), but I can get my order delivered at the time and place of my choosing. With mail order, I find I have to have everything larger than envelope-size sent to my parents’ house, as UPS and USPS have proved absolutely incompetent at delivering any packages when I am not actually home during the day. (I have a job! Of course I’m not home during the day.) If I wind up having to schlep to the PO (or, worse, the UPS delivery station which is about 20 miles away) every time I have a package delivered, or even drive out to my parents’ house (about 15 miles away) – well, it isn’t really saving me a whole lot of time. I will be sticking with Safeway, thanks.

Comments are closed.