WalletPop had the chance to take Soap.com, which is run by the same company that manages Diapers.com, for a test drive early this week to see how the prices, speed and service compare to shopping in person at a local store, and found that Soap.com offered a convenient and speedy way to get drugstore items at a reasonable price. Read on for our Soap.com experience.
Soap.com launched with 25,000 items spanning 900 brands, a number it hopes to grow to 40,000 by the end of 2010; a typical drugstore for comparison will have around 10,000 items. These items span 13 categories that contain household cleaning supplies and paper products, personal care, hair car, skin care, makeup, vitamins, natural & organic products a section of men's items and more.
The selection rivaled what I would find in a local drugstore, but still had a smaller selection than my local grocery store. For example while I could find all of my wife's shampoo and body wash products as well as home cleaning supplies, the Gillette hair gel I normally purchase was unavailable.
If you're looking for store brand items, like the 10 products to always buy generic, then be prepared to go to the store since Soap.com doesn't have a "house" brand.
Prices on most items were the same as at my local grocery store, but lower than if I ran into a drugstore on the way home from work. It's also important to note that I am comparing the prices to Meijer and Walmart in Northwest Ohio, which usually sells items for cheaper than you will find them along the coasts or in larger cities.
For example, a Bounty Select-a-size paper towel two-pack was $3.99 on Soap.com as well as at my grocery store, but with a coupon I was able to get the paper towels from Soap.com for $3.74. A small savings, perhaps, but there are many more coupons that can be used on Soap.com.
Soap.com lets you cut the cost of shopping even more with coupons. One thing that caught my attention is that there are two ways to use coupons at Soap.com. You can make use of e-coupons which Soap has worked with manufacturers to provide or you can clip your own coupons from the Sunday paper and mail them in to Soap.com to be credited to your account.
There are several ways to find product with an e-coupon available. You can visit the Savings Center to view all sales and coupons available, or if you shop based on what you have a coupon for like I do, you can view the coupons that apply to the category you are looking at in a Savings Center on-the-go which spans the top of product category pages.
One word of warning on the e-coupons on Soap.com. In order to use some of them you need to check a small box underneath the item before you add it to your cart. When I placed my order I did not notice this and missed out on several dollars in savings.
Lisa Kennedy, EVP of E-Commerce at Quidsi, the parent company of Soap.com, explained in a phone interview with WalletPop that because Soap.com works directly with manufacturers to place coupons on the website, some require that consumers take an action similar to clipping a physical coupon, instead of automatically applying the discount.
Since I missed the coupon savings, and I really hate to purchase an item and leave a coupon on the table, I contacted the Soap.com customer support to find out if they would credit my account for the missed savings. To my delight my credit card was credited for all of the applicable coupons, even though I only inquired about one $3 coupon. It is possible that because this was a preview of the Soap.com service that the customer service reps took extra care of my issue, but I didn't identify myself as making the purchase for a review and the conversation felt like a typical back and forth customer service exchange, except my emails were answered in a matter of minutes, not days.
Soap.com is a service designed for shoppers who routinely find themselves in need of a household items but dread going to the grocery or drugstore, especially since it's never a five minute adventure. By offering prices that meet or beat most local stores, a large selection of items that can be found by browsing or searching, free 2-day shipping on orders over $49 and 6 p.m. local time order cutoffs, Soap.com has the potential to change the way busy people shop.