You may know Costco as the place you go shopping for all your necessary and unnecessary bulk item purchases. You also may know Costco for the many sample tasting opportunities. Who doesn’t love snacking while shopping? However, before you make your second round to your favorite sample table here are 10 Costco hacks you’ll wish you knew before you walked through the front door.
10. Product Placement
The placement of Costco’s products is predetermined and thought out in order to help you, the customer, save money, as well as, spend money. Costco puts big-tag discount items in the front of the store knowing customers will likely splurge on these deals and sacrifice smaller bulk items off the shopping list. The best way to avoid this product placement temptation is to walk through the front of the store with your head down and your eyes on the floor. Focus, focus, focus! Another product placement tactic is not having signs in their aisles as to where products are located. By not having inventory signs the customer will be more apt to walk up and down each aisle. Costco knows this means there is a greater chance of impulsive shopping for products you didn’t know you needed or wanted until spotting it in a random aisle. If you truly want the best bargains, head towards the center of the store. The products located there are usually paid for by merchandisers. Providing you, the customer with the lowest prices available. Don’t let the products still on the shipping pallets stop you from browsing. These products may not have a pretty store display but this is because the pricing is such a great value the Costco employees know these products will sell fast. Costco also conveniently has larger shopping carts to ensure there is plenty of room for the product placement traps set out to lure customers to buy more than planned.
9. Pricing Secrets
The pricing of Costco’s products is not just randomly set. There is a method to the savings madness. In fact, there are definitive ways to tell if a product has been marked down or if it is still at its regular price. A product that is still at its regular price will end in $.99 If the product pricing ends in $.97 this means the pricing has been reduced from the regular pricing. If the product pricing ends in $.49, $.79, or $.89 then Costco received a special deal directly from the manufacturer and the markdown has a good value. If you spot product pricing ending in $.88 or $.00 this is the indication the manager has provided a discount that will help the product fly out the doors via your shopping cart. These are the deals meant for the products to sell fast. So if you see a product with these prices it would be best to purchase before they are gone.
8. Pricing Symbols
As you are pushing your cart down the aisles of Costco, with your empty sample cup in hand, pay close attention to the products with a star or asterisk on the pricing sign. This fancy little symbol means that a particular product will not be returning to the store. This might be due to a management decision to not restock or the manufacturer discontinuing the item. So if it happens to be one of your favorite items or a product you were on the fence about buying, you better take a leap and stock up before it’s too late and gone for good. The star or asterisk symbol can also be found on seasonal items. Products that are not regularly stocked items. The rule of thumb with seasonal products is to always purchase when you see them as there is no guarantee it will last long or ever be seen on a Costco shelf again. That fancy little symbol adds an additional element of pressure to Costco’s product placement methodology.
7. Shopping Hours
If you are the type of customer that prefers shopping for your bulk items without long lines at the sample tables you will want to make a note that the “slower” days for Costco are between 3:00-5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. If you are the type of customer that prefers to shop with busy crowds and longer lines then you will want to make a note to shop during the weekends and on Mondays. If you truly want to know if it's a good time to shop for bulk purchases and more, then drive by your local Costco. The parking lot will be your best indication as to if it’s a good time for the type of shopper you are. A full parking lot means if you are the type of customer that prefers a slower-paced day, you should probably keep driving on by and try another time when there are more vacant parking spots.
6. Free Tech Support
There is nothing more frustrating than buying the latest, greatest electronic device just to get home to find out you have no clue what you are doing when it comes to the installation process or any other issues that may arise. Ugh! Well, there is no need to fret as Costco’s Concierge Services provide free technical support on electronic purchases for Costco Members. They are available from 5 a.m. - 10 p.m. / 7 days a week, except holidays. Even the Costco tech superheroes deserve time off to spend with their families. So go buy those exciting new electronics you have been eyeing without the stress and worrying over the installation process. Costco tech services have your back free of charge! Whew, what a relief!
5. Movie Night
If you purchase your movie tickets at Costco you will spend less than at the Movie Theater. Customers can purchase 2-for-1 Costco Regal movie tickets and easily use them at the Movie Theater after purchasing. Costco also sells movie ticket bundles which equates to an estimated $9 per ticket. These movie tickets can be redeemed by showing your card at the box office or in the Regal movie app. Yes, it is truly that easy! Purchase and redeem! Also, if you purchase a Cinemark gift card it will cost you $39.99 at the Costco checkout but has a value of $50 for spending at the Theater. This is a whopping 20% discount, which means you have the perfect gift for family, friends, or for an unplanned date night with that special someone. Who doesn’t love a guilt-free reason to upsize your drink or add extra butter to your popcorn. Adulting is hard, so thrifty savings choices deserve to be celebrated. Right?
4. The Sound of the Bell
Calling all Costco shoppers… when you hear the sound of a bell it means there is fresh rotisserie chicken coming out of the oven for purchase. Not just hot and fresh rotisserie chicken but the biggest compared to Costco’s competitors. Costco’s rotisserie chicken weighs 3 pounds whereas everyone else’s weighs 2 pounds. That is a whopping pound less! Don’t worry if that is more bird than you bargained for. Simply ask the Costco deli employee for a half or quarter of the rotisserie chicken. They will gladly oblige! These delicious rotisserie chickens only cost $4.99 each. Pretty “cheep”, huh? Costco literally makes no profit on these. The trick in the trade is where the rotisserie chickens are located. Costco makes up for the loss of profit on these delicious birds by having their customers walk to the very back of the store. Costco knows more than likely a customer will purchase more than just the rotisserie chicken if they have to walk past all the aisles and product displays. There is bound to be something that catches your eye. The rotisserie chicken has already caught your nose! “Winner, winner, chicken dinner”!
3. DIY Crafters
If you are a Costco shopper and a DIY (do it yourself) crafter you are about to internally scream for joy when you find out that Costco lets customers have the wine shipping crates for free. Just to clarify, this is not pertaining to the fancy wine boxes at the display area. These are the wooden crate-type boxes the wine is shipped in. They typically can be found in the stack of boxes at the check-out counters. If you don’t see any within the stacks of boxes then ask one of the friendly Costco employees for assistance in locating them. These empty wooden wine cates are pretty cool for repurposing into a tool caddy, a vase, bookshelf, serving tray, or whatever else you creative DIY crafters create from your imaginations. So impressive and cool!
2. Non Member Perks
You don’t have to be a Costco Member to fill your prescriptions at their pharmacy or get a flu shot. Costco has proven to be the cheapest for all generic medications. As a non-member, you can also have an eye exam done at the Costco optical center or have a hearing screening done. However, you do have to be a Costco Member to purchase eyeglass, contacts, or hearing aids. So you will have to have a friend with a Costco Membership or use a Costco cash card. You also aren’t required to have a Costco Membership to eat at the food court. Just let the greeter at the front entrance know you are using one of these awesome discounted services without being a Costco Member. Again, you will not be able to purchase anything from the warehouse without a Costco membership or a Costco gift card. To purchase items from the warehouse without a Costco membership or gift card simply download the “instacat” app and place your Costco order. There is a minimal delivery fee for this service but it is much less than the price of a Costco membership. There is also the missing perk of tasting all the samples if you are not physically in the store. So quite the hack if you are not a big lover of the sample tables. To sample or not to sample, that is the question!
1. Return Policies
Costco has a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy. This means you, the customer, can shop with ease knowing Costco allows for returns on basically everything in the warehouse. There are time limitations depending on the product type. Such electronics can be returned up to 90 days from the purchase date. All the timeline specifications can be found at Costco.com. Keep in mind that Costco does track returns so although they have a hassle-free return process, they will flag a customer’s account if they feel the return policy is being abused. The good news is you do not have to save your receipt. If you have a product item you would like to return, simply take it back to the store originally purchased from and proceed to the returns counter. This policy also covers membership costs. If you are dissatisfied for any reason up to 364 days from the original date of your membership purchase, Costco will refund the membership costs paid. They also honor price matching. If the product you purchased goes on sale within 30 days after you purchased it, an online form can be completed and Costco will review and refund the difference. Costco makes it easy to shop without the stress of a product purchased not working out and not having the option to return. Costco has you covered! Do you hear that sound in the distance? It’s an empty oversized Costco shopping cart calling your name. “Psst, let’s go snack sampling while we bargain shop at Costco”!