Boxed, the 'Costco for millennials,' is making big changes to make it easier to shop in bulk online

  • Boxed is an online wholesale club.
  • It's announcing three new features: AR capabilities for select products, a chatbot, and group ordering.
  • The new features are meant to make bulk shopping easier online. 

Boxed, the "Costco for millennials," wants to give you options. The online store — which bills itself as the digital version of a buy-in-bulk wholesale club, without the membership fees — is launching a set of new features it hopes will make shopping easier for customers.

First up, Boxed is introducing group ordering, which allows shoppers to send links to others to collaborate on building a shopping cart.

The idea behind group ordering is to have "almost like a Google Doc for shopping," Will Fong, Boxed's CTO and co-founder, told Business Insider.

Checkout will still be done by the basket's originator, but the other collaborators can add and delete items and invite others to help.

The feature is designed for group households and businesses. It has a Venmo feature that will automatically divide the price of the order and charge the recipients.

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Items you should never buy online


Although it may be more convenient to purchase flowers online, if you have time, it's best to locate a local florist near the person you want to send flowers to. According to a study by, you're more likely to pay less and receive a better bouquet for your money when you use a local florist. 

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You may not realize it, but when you purchase furniture online, you also have to pay for delivery and surcharge fees. In order to avoid paying these unwanted costs, it's easier to get it in person. For example, when buying furniture in-store, you're able to negotiate a better price and maybe even convince the salesperson to throw in free delivery. 

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Much like shopping for flowers, it is best to purchase your groceries at an actual grocery store. When you purchase them in person, you have the opportunity ensure you are choosing the best meats, produce, etc. -- something you can't do when ordering online.

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As beach season rapidly approaches, you probably want to invest in a few new swimsuits. However, before you make that online purchase you'll want to heed this warning. Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot, says, " Fit can fluctuate even among suits from the same brand...  and many online retailers don’t allow swimsuit returns if the packaging has been opened or there’s evidence the suit has been worn." 

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Social Media Followers 
We get it, social media is addicting.  While it may be cool to have over 10,000 followers, buying them can be risky. Depending on the social media site you are using, the followers you purchase can be deleted if they are considered spam accounts. 

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Unless advised by your doctor, you should avoid buying medicine online at all costs. It can be tempting to get off-brand products, but you may be unknowingly purchasing illegal or counterfeit drugs. 

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The internet has made it possible to cut out the middleman when dealing with major purchases, but sometimes, that salesperson is needed. If you're buying a car for the first time, it may be best to get it at a dealership. When you get a car online, you're taking away the opportunity to test it out first and negotiate a better deal. 

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Knockoff Accessories 
While getting counterfeit bags and jewelry is cheaper than buying the real thing, you should do so with much caution. Oftentimes, these items are sold on unsecured sites which can lead to either your computer getting a virus or your identity being stolen. 

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While you can find an array of pets being sold online, it is always safest to purchase one in person. Much like furniture, you may have to deal with excessive delivery fees, and what's more, your pet can get sick or even worse. 

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Fragile Items
If you're truly invested in a fragile or irreplaceable item, it's highly recommended to buy and pick it up in the store. This cuts out any chances of a delivery person dropping and breaking your prized possession. 

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Boxed is also adding augmented reality to its iOS app. This will let customers see exactly how large these bulk items are before they purchase them — and judge whether they will fit in their pantry.

The initiative is starting out with 30 products, but Boxed says it could expand based on customer response.

The initiative fits in well with Boxed's core demographic of urban millennial families, many of whom live in a denser area and may not have much space to store bulk items.

Boxed is also launching a Facebook Messenger chatbot as another way to be where customers already are. The bot may suggest reordering items that customers are running out of — which it would know based on a machine-learning algorithm — or to order a new item it thinks they may like based on previous purchases.

The bot, which Boxed named "Bulky," can handle customer service questions like: "What is my order status?"

Boxed will also integrate the bot with the workplace communication platform Slack as it continues to target businesses and the office managers who buy for them.

Fong said these new initiatives are just the start as the company rethinks how to sell bulk items online.

"We have to remind ourselves a lot that the innovation has to be practical and useful for our customers while serving the mission of the company which is helping our customer stay stocked up. There's so many ways that shopping can be improved," Fong said.

"We're just at the tip of the iceberg."

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