From Stain Sticks to Lip Balm: How Online Drugstores Can Save You Money

Online DrugstoresFew things are more exciting than getting a package.

And when its arrival means you can cross an errand off your list? It’s practically magical.

Enter the online drugstore, which purports to save you time and money when tracking down your everyday necessities.

A big selling point of these stores is automated shopping, where the site allows you to create a shopping list—or select individual products—and have everything shipped to you at your chosen interval. The service takes two things off our plate: going to the drugstore, and remembering what we needed there.

So, online shopping can certainly help us save time, but what about money? We compared five of the big players side-by-side to figure out which site does what and how shopping there could help your bottom line.

SiteThe GistStandard ShippingPrices
(Examples below)
How It Will Save You Money
Tide To Go Stain Remover PenOriginal Chapstick, 3-Pack
AliceAlice carries all of the traditional drugstore products ... organized handily by room.Free with minimum purchase of 6 items$2.89$3.89The budgeting section shows you your monthly spending in a chart and compares what you spend to families like yours.
AmazonNot just for books and electronics anymore, Amazon also has all of your household needs covered.Calculated by base price $4.99 +.59 cents per pound; free over $25 with eligible items$4.79$4.09The Subscribe & Save program lets you set up automatic shipping at intervals you choose—and offers up to 15% off on prices.
DrugstoreIt's partnered with Beauty.com, which makes it an especially great resource for cosmetics.$6, free over $25Pack of 3, $8.99 (which works out to approximately $3 per pen)$3.99The Drugstore Dollars program gives you 5% back with nearly every order.
SoapProvides a startling variety of drugstore and grocery products. One editor even turned to Soap when she couldn't find what she needed in person!$5, free over $39Pack of 3, $8.03 (which works out to approximately $2.68 per pen)$6The My 5 Faves feature lets you choose five favorite products (changeable every 90 days) and applies a 10% discount  every time they’re ordered.
HoseannaGeared specifically toward women, it promises to auto-ship everything you need "conveniently and discreetly" at two- or three-month intervals.$5,  free over $30$3.49Single only, $1.39Each user gets a unique referral link, and gets $1 to use on the site each time a friend uses that link to join.

More From LearnVest

Online drugstores are great, but is it safe to order actual prescription drugs on the internet? We give you the lowdown.
In cost-cutting mode? We've got tips on how to save around the home and with all your shopping.
We're not about to rate doctors ourselves, but we'll tell you which sites do it best.

  • Laughton29

    Alice looks to be the cheapest but it is still more expensive than Wal-Mart or Target to get drugstore items. I am not to the point where I will pay for the convenience of having necessities shipped to me. I have to shop at these places anyway. Might as well spend the extra time picking up my drugstore items there too.

    • http://twitter.com/annezca Annie

      Is there a Canadian version of Alice.com?

    • Bhmccrary

      I recently compared prices of my commonly used items at Soap.com and Walmart.com, Walmart won on almost every item even when I factored in sales tax (9.5% here). Like you, I go to Walmart anyway. Soap.com only beat out Walmart when I used a new customer promotion of 20% off my entire order and free shipping. 

  • Jeremiahbrophy

    There are also network marketing programs out there that advocate “shop and get paid” as a bare bones endorsement of online shopping.  I am a happy member of one myself and look at the hidden costs of driving to brick and mortar stores as another mark against shopping at retail stores versus online.  Consider this:  Gas at 3.50 a gallon…insurance at $100/month or roughly $3 a day…time to pack up, travel to store, shop, travel back from store, unload grocery item(s) = far more than just clicking online and then kicking your packages inside the door when they arrive.
    Just saying…

  • pch

    because tax is so high where i live, and i live in an area with a high cost of living, it’s often cheaper for me to shop on drugstore.com, as long as i get the free shipping. i’m so glad one of my friends turned me onto it!

  • Elise

    Especially with those of us living in the city (DC here), this is great! I usually use Soap.com when I can use the 20% or 30% discounts that they send in the mail every so often and then I buy all the big heavy things that I have a hard time buying and carrying like toilet paper and laundry detergent since I don’t have a car (and anything else since it’s linked to a bunch of other sites with 1 shopping cart). I also like that you can upload your coupons and that they price match. It CAN certainly be cheaper than the drugstore, especially with the high tax rate in DC and it’s much easier than public transportation and lugging heavy things up a hill :). I might try out the others too though, thanks for the comparison!

  • Anonymous

    I actually prefer to shop at my local drugstore.  The people who work there know me and they live in my community.  I like my neighborhood stores and want them to continue to be part of my world.

    • Julie

      I think that’s a great thing you’re doing. Personally, I think this is geared for people who really are looking into saving. There are no local drugstores so to speak here – just chains- but if there were and I had no financial concerns, I would probably only shop there unless they didn’t have an item I needed. Supporting local businesses is important.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=791117867 Pamela Nielsen

    Great info! Thanks so much.  I checked out Alice.  :) 

  • Eve

    Actually it is even cheaper to make everyday household cleaners and ensure that they are not toxic to you or your family’s health.  Since I started to make my own clearners, etc. I spend approximately $5.00 or less per month on kitchen, bathroom, etc. cleaning supplies.

    • Jkinzies

      Where do you find your recipes for homemade cleaners?

      • Eve

        I’ve googled many times for different non-toxic cleaning problems, but about 6 months ago found a great book (The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier – you can get it used for about $5.00).  It’s been a great resource. 

  • Peggy

    I find it is still cheaper at the dollar stores for quite a few items esp cleaning products. I esp like dollar tree stores.

  • Melissalmichel

    For very cheap bulk items I love buythecase.net. Tons of variety and super cheap shipping.

  • Pdaly

    Is it cheaper when you consider the shipping cost?