For buying groceries and household staples online, Brandless looks like an intriguing concept. Everything on the site is a flat $3, although sometimes you'll get two of an item for $3. The website carries food, household supplies, beauty items, personal care products, home and office supplies and health products.
It looks as if there could be some great bargains on healthier-for-you foods on the site, especially if they taste good. There's a 12-oz jar of organic peanut butter for $3 that has no added sugar or sweeteners. That's definitely a bargain. There's also a 6.7-oz bottle of organic maple syrup — real maple syrup, not pancake syrup — for $3. That's just about unheard of. Six rolls of tree-free, 2-ply toilet paper made from sugarcane and bamboo grass are ... you guessed it: $3.
I've spent some time poking around Brandless to do some comparison pricing. The selection of items on the site isn't huge, but it's practical. The site's food is all non-perishable. Most of it is a version of some popular food item, but Brandless' version is always non-GMO, always free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, and often organic.
For example, the 8-oz box of organic Wheat Crackers looks comparable to Nabisco Wheat Thins. Regular Wheat Thins at my local grocery store cost $4.29 a box when they aren't on sale. The Brandless version is definitely the better deal, especially when you factor in that it's organic and non-GMO — although I don't know if they taste the same as the Nabisco crackers.
For a better comparison, I looked at the price of a couple of Brandless items vs. comparable items on Amazon. (Amazon recently bought Whole Foods and increased its online offering of healthier foods.)
Brandless has a 5.5-oz box of Duck Shaped Cheese Crackers for $3, or $.55/oz. These crackers are meant to satisfy the same craving in kids and adults that Pepperidge Farm Gold Fish Crackers do. Amazon sells an 8-oz package of Organic Goldfish for $3.99, or $.50/oz — the better bargain. However, Brandless has Crushed Pepper and Truffle Oil Popcorn 2/$3, or $.50/oz compared to Gourmet Basics Crushed Pepper and Truffle Oil Popcorn on Amazon that's $.57/oz if you buy 12 (4.4-oz) bags of it.
There's shipping to be taken into consideration, too. Brandless offers $3 shipping on your first order. After that, shipping is a flat $9, unless you spend over $72 and then it's free. If you have Amazon Prime (which costs $99/year) shipping is free on most items shipped directly from Amazon.
Comparing prices is only one consideration. Taste, and how effective the health and cleaning products are, have to be considered, too. Brandless offers feminine hygiene products — organic tampons and organic top sheet pads and pantyliners for prices that seem comparable to national brands. But if they don't absorb well, they're not a bargain.
I'm going to be giving Brandless and some of the company's BrandTax Free (their cutesy marketing term) items a try. And, when I do, one meal will be donated to Feeding America. Plus, during the month of September, the company will donate an additional 10 meals for every friend tagged and every post shared on this Facebook post.
I'll do a follow-up post with my thoughts on Brandless' products in the future. In the meantime, have you shopped on Brandless' website or do you plan to? I want to know your thoughts.