From its dirt-cheap hot dogs to its quality bulk goods, Costco does a lot of things well. But when it comes to its mobile app, the wholesaler is stuck in the past. The Costco app is so poorly designed that superfans posting on the Costco subreddit (mind you, these are shoppers who live and breathe Costco) regularly bash its aesthetics and functionality in threads with titles like “The Costco app is unusably bad” and “Does anyone else agree that the Costco app is pretty useless?”
Members have two main gripes: the app’s lack of functionality and its poor user experience.
Unlike, say, the Sam’s Club app, which enhances the user’s experience with its Scan & Go feature, critics say that Costco’s app “just feels like their website crammed into an app,” as one Redditor puts it.
To say that the app is simply a reskin of the website isn’t entirely fair, as it does have some additional features — you can see your receipts and bring up a digital membership card on your phone, for example — but it can’t compare with apps from Sam’s or BJ’s, Redditors say.
For instance, Costco’s app doesn’t let users see what’s in stock at their local warehouse or display in-store prices, two features that are standard on many retail apps.
“Seems like such a basic thing to check stock at a warehouse. Our cat food supplies were low and the store never seemed to have it in stock. No way to check,” a Redditor complains.
The other issue is that Costco’s app just doesn’t work well. Beyond the app’s bugginess and unresponsiveness, its poor search function and login process repeatedly come up as pain points, with users having to log in minutes after closing the app.
Costco’s abysmal user experience may be by design, however. Over the years, multiple Redditors have speculated that it’s in the retailer’s interest to keep its infrastructure low-tech, as it forces consumers to actually enter the warehouse. (This also might help explain its resistance to curbside pickup.) And as any Costco shopper knows, you’re almost bound to grab eye-catching odds and ends as you peruse the warehouse’s massive aisles.
As one superfan writes, “The adult wonderland that is a Costco warehouse just doesn’t play out the same online.”
Cheapism reached out to Costco for comment and will update this article if and when we hear back.
Gallery: 10 'Unwritten Rules' of Costco That Every Shopper Should Know