Are you looking for a better way to stock up on necessities? Do you like great deals on hot electronics, like televisions, video games, and stereo equipment? If your answer to these questions is “Yes!” then you should probably consider joining Costco, the thrifty Australian’s best-kept secret to getting deep discounts on their favorite brands.
Since launching in Australia in 2009, Costco has opened seven of its large warehouse stores and delivered discounts directly, wooing Australians with its impressive inventory of groceries, cheap apparel, outdoor equipment and consumer electronics.
By the way, if the bankers and the funders of the grocery industry had their way, they’d make sure that the benefits of Costco membership stayed a secret! The discounts at Costco in Australia are so low that investors in the grocery store industry have recently voiced their fear that Costco’s presence has put a strain on grocery store chains like Woolworths, who have slowly but surely been losing customers and plan to spend more time on sales and promotions to re-invigorate their customer base. Industry experts worry that this could cause an all-out price war.
This is bad news for big businesses, but great news for consumers.
Patrick Noone, Costco Wholesale Australia’s chief executive, recently told The Australian that Costco’s business model is always aimed at deep discounts – saying that Costco is “engaged in a price war every day” for customers, and that’s what drives their success. “It’s great for the consumer and I think anything that drives more competition is good for the industry, good for suppliers and good for retailers,” Mr. Noone told The Australian. “So when it comes to a price war I think whenever the consumer wins it’s the best thing for Australian retail, and the more efficient a retail market is the better it is for consumers and the industry overall.”
So what is Costco exactly?
Costco is a members-only wholesale warehouse that sells a huge variety of items including bulk groceries, electronics, and more great products directly to consumers. They first arrived in Australia in 2008 to set up a warehouse in Sydney. There are now seven locations you can join across Australia, with locations in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Canberra. Thousands of Australians flock to Costco during football season and the holidays to stock up on necessities for the festivities.
When you join Costco, membership has its privileges. In addition to deep discounts at your local warehouse, members also have access to deals wherever they come across a Costco warehouse. If you love to travel, Costco membership in Australia is also good at all locations across the globe, including destinations like England, the United States and Japan.
If you live in the Canberra area and you tend to drive a lot, the Costco warehouse even offers discounted petrol for cars, trucks and motorbikes.
How Does Costco Membership Work?
Members pay a nominal annual membership fee to take advantage of shopping the warehouse for deep discounts on their favourite brands.
Costco is a large warehouse that customers use to shop for discounts in bulk on everyday items like groceries and toilet paper, but they also feature many name brand items as well. Costco often features monthly sales on electronics, video games, and other seasonal items. The inventory changes often, and members also will get special coupons in the mail. Costco offers high-quality products and special deals exclusively to its members.
Costco memberships are fully guaranteed and you can test-drive a membership with no obligation. It’s easy to cancel if you’re not satisfied. (Costco promises to refund your dues if you’re unhappy at any time.)
Memberships last for one year from the date you sign up, then you are expected to renew yearly.
Costco memberships cannot be transferred or shared, and to prevent theft, your identification card will have a photo on it. (If you care about how your photo ID looks, make sure to dress up a bit for your first Costco visit – this is when they will take your photo for your membership card.)
Costco members get monthly coupons and other sales circulars in the mail, as well as a free subscription to the members-only magazine, The Costco Connection.
Who Is Eligible To Become A Member?
Memberships are only available to adults aged 18 and older and they are not transferrable.
Along with your primary membership, you are entitled to one free household card is available for your spouse, domestic partner, or immediate family member who is over the age of 18 and living at the same address. When you sign them up for a card, you’ll have to bring proof that they live with you, such as an identification or piece of mail.
You can shop as a family and bring up to two adults with you, but you’ll need one of the primary members with you when you go to the store.
Your membership card will be used as your admission to the Costco warehouse, and you will need it when entering the warehouse, checking out at the warehouse cash register, or buying petrol at the Canberra location.
Businesses can also become members and they must prove their legitimacy in the process.
What Other Benefits Are There For Costco Members?
Costco has a reputation for great deals as well as great customer service.
Great Deals on Catered Food, Cakes and Party Platters:
In addition to great deals on bulk food items, Costco members can also order food and party items from the warehouse for special occasions at deep savings. The Costco bakery lets customers pre-order decorated sponge cakes complete with a customised special message or inscription. Members can also pre-order platters from the deli department, choosing from a Platter selection of prawns, ham and swiss cheese rollers, chicken wings and sandwiches.
Discount Hearing Aids
Costco warehouses staff an audiologist who can help you diagnose and cope with hearing loss. Costco works with three major hearing aid suppliers to help customers get the best possible features with state-of-the-art technology, including.
Exclusive Sales and Deals
Members get access to exclusive sales and deals through coupons and sales circulars.
Members who visit the Canberra warehouse can also get discount prices on petrol for cars, trucks and motorbikes.
Customers also get peace of mind when it comes to satisfaction. Costco will sometimes honour sales from competitors (make a call ahead to ask) and the warehouses have a generous refund policy. They guarantee satisfaction on every product they sell, in addition to other rights afforded to consumers under Australian Consumer Law.
Costco does not, however, honour manufacturer’s coupons. They only honour coupons they issue themselves and rebates they advertise.
Bulk Order Service for Businesses
An exclusive benefit of membership for businesses is the ability to bulk order and pick up your supplies. Costco lets business accounts order directly from the warehouse, and once payment has been made, they will collect your items from the shelf to await your pick up. (There is a 48 hour turnaround time for bulk orders and they will be available for pick up by 2 p.m. the following afternoon.)
What Membership Plans Are Available?
There are three different types of memberships available to customers.
The $60 gold membership is for individuals and families. You can have up to two membership cards per family, and all family members must reside at the same address. Membership gives you access to Costco warehouses worldwide,
All Primary and Household Costco members should be over the age of 18 and present one piece of photo identity (Drivers Licence, Proof of Age or valid Passport). To finalize your membership, a photo will be taken and printed on the card at the warehouse when you first visit. (You will not be allowed to check out items without it.)
You can give the gift of a Costco membership year-round. A gift membership isn’t a physical membership, but a certificate that your loved one or colleague can redeem for a one-year membership.
Membership rates aren’t set in stone, so if your loved one procrastinates in redeeming their free membership, there could be a price difference. The person could end paying a price difference upon redemption. The Gift of Membership Certificate is not replaceable if lost, stolen, or destroyed. Photocopies are not accepted.
The $55 Business membership is available to all licensed businesses, non-profit organisations, government agencies, farmers and ranchers and is good for one year from the date of purchase.
A free Household card is also available for a spouse or other adult family member who lives at the same residential address as the Primary member.
To finalize your membership, a photo will be taken and printed on the card at the warehouse when you first visit. (You will not be allowed to check out items without it.)
Business identification (ABN certificate/registration of business or three pieces of business ID) is required when applying for Business membership. The business cardholder and secondary cardholder must be over the age of 18 and present one piece of photo identity (Drivers Licence, Proof of Age or valid Passport) at the first warehouse visit.
How Do I Sign Up For Costco Membership Online?
Sign up for Costco membership is pretty easy, but you’ll still have to sit and pose for a photo upon your first visit to the Costco warehouse. You can sign up at https://www.costco.com.au/Common/Membership.shtml.
Step 1: Choose Your Plan
Decide if you want a Gold Star membership, a business membership, or if you want to give a Costco membership as a gift to a friend.
Step 2: Fill Out The Form
When you sign up for a membership, you’ll choose a “home base” that you plan to shop at the most. (Don’t worry – your Costco card works at any location!) Make sure you let them know if you want a second card for your household.
Step 3: Confirm you details are correct.
Step 5. Pay with a credit card or check card. Your credit card payment will be processed securely by The Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Step 6. You will get a message letting you know that your credit card has been approved.
Step 7. Wait for Your Costco Membership Confirmation page to appear. Print at least one copy of it for your records.
Step 8: Check Your Email for Another Confirmation
How to Make Your First Costco Trip A Success:
- Bring paperwork. Clip your coupons and shop with a list or the sales circular, especially if you want to take advantage of a certain sale you read about. Coupon books usually go out to members once a month Gather any documents (proof of age, driver’s license or passport for residency for your first and secondary household member) you need before you go to the store.
- Inspect your membership card and make sure it has a number and get your photo taken. Your first stop will be to the photo booth when you get to the warehouse. If you want a secondary card for your spouse or domestic partner, you’ll need to bring their paperwork with you and have them sit for a photo ID at guest services.
- Bring your family or friends. Members are welcome to bring their children and up to two guests into the warehouse. Only Costco members may purchase, pay and check out items at the cash register. (So if you have promised to help your neighbour buy that great new grill that’s on sale, make sure you get the money from them before you travel to the store.)
- Be a courteous shopper. If you bring children with you, keep them close at all times. The warehouse is pretty big and generally a dangerous place to let kids wander. (Plus, according to Costco’s terms and conditions, you’ll probably be held responsible if something gets broken.)
- Travel light. Leave backpacks, briefcases and other large items at home, but you can bring reusable shopping bags if you want. (Bring big ones!) There are grocery items in the store, so shirts and shoes are required.
Privacy: How Costco Uses Your Information
In the information age, it’s always good to pay attention to how a business collects and uses your information. Costco doesn’t sell, rent, share or disclose personal information to outside parties without your prior consent, except in cases that have to do with safety issues, product issues, and other matters that you’ll need to know. They also use your information to send you coupons and sales circulars and promotional offers. Otherwise, their website says, they guard their member’s privacy and use your information primarily to deliver you sales and merchandise.
You can opt-out of promotional offers by contacting them, either via their website or the customer service desk at the warehouse.
What People Say About Costco in Australia:
- “Awesome for families. friendly staff, do your research understand your buying in bulk as it adds up quickly, membership is worth it just for the fuel discounts alone,” – Joshua K on G+
- “Costco is clean, efficient, cost-effective and overall a pleasure to shop in. If you have done your research you know there is a members fee, and contrary to past comments, with appropriate cash flow, buying in bulk and choosing your items carefully is key to saving money here. I made back my membership fee in my first shop and I am still benefitting. The jewel in the Costco crown is the petrol station at Kilburn. It is clean, efficient, there are no wafting fuel fumes and I haven’t seen the price that I filled up for today in 10+ years.The refund policy is just as a consumer store should be; no questions asked. Don’t like it? Return it. Don’t impulse buy here, as most items at Costco are $10-20 a few impulse buys can add $100 to your bill.Dont like Costco? Go to Coles or Woolies and feed the duopoly. I am all for Australian owned/operated but someone needs to shake-down these giants.” – Saxon F. on Google+
- “I’m not sure AsiaPac is ready for Costco. Being a North American (Canadian who lived in the US for several years) Costco is nothing new to me. It’s a bulk buying warehouse. You either get things in large sizes, or lots of averaged sized things packaged together.
- I’ve lived in Melbourne for over three years now, so I’m over the sticker shock of Australian prices. But when I finally decided to renew my membership and join Costco here, it was like a breath of fresh air. On the first trip, I spent $400! I bought Tide (they sell tide!! and bounce!), dill pickles (oh how I’ve missed you!) real maple syrup, organic salsa, fruit and veggies in massive quantities, and a heap of other stuff in their house brand (Kirkland). It was a trip down memory lane, tho my Australian partner was less than impressed.
- My main observation was that because Costco was still rather novel here, the place (other than right when they open) is chockers. That and locals haven’t yet learned the art of navigating the aisles. A trip to Costco should be more like a trip to your local grocer, and not the chaos that it is. I reckon this will get better eventually. I hope. If not, make sure you go within the first hour they open. Or possibly during work hours on a weekday.” – Kate W. on Yelp
- “Omg Costco! A place where u can buy in bulk to feed the whole tribe plus random sofa, mattress, jumping castles so your whole tribe can live with you.
- Costco often have random stuff so one day you might find a KITCHENAID on sale, the next week it will be gone. I guess it lures you to visit more often cos u always ended up buying more stuff than u need. Like, always.
- Membership cost about $65 annually but seriously I think we saved that much on our first visit there. For us, the cheapest stuff to buy there are toilet paper, kitchen paper and facial tissues (yes, we obviously use a lot of those!). Carmen’s museli are really cheap there as well as nappies, if you are into those.
- Of course those giant tubs of yoghurt/ icecream/ Nutella/ peanut butter/ vegimite a are fantastic too but seriously we don’t have space for it, so I could only looked at it longingly whilst pushing my giant trolley towards the toilet paper section… Lol” — Sarina W on Yelp
- “It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Costco. We’re only a couple, and it’s still worth it (paying the membership) for us. The quality of the goods you get here is better than Aldi or the other big supermarkets.
- This one is laid-out almost the same as all the other ones, except that it has two cool rooms. And booze. It has booze (which is something Costcos in Canada don’t have).
- This place get crazy busy on the weekend – avoid it then if you can. If you can’t, it’s not too bad. The service has always been pretty good.
- The takeaway food part is almost always busy – it seems like a lot of people just drop by for takeaway without going in. You don’t need to be a member to get food to go, and the pizza’s are cheap, huge, and made with good ingredients. You can’t beat the $2 hot dogs – again, the quality is better than almost any others you’ll find anywhere. Oh, and the $2 hot dog comes with a free drink, with free refills (!!!).” – Rowan W. on Yelp, Auburn location
- “I joined Costgo North Lakes when the store opened, there are so many bargains too many to mention. You have to be disciplined in buying as you can get caught up in the hype. Their vegetables are very fresh and last twice as long as the ones in other supermarkets. The strawberries are from Wamuran and taste delicious. I live close by and the petrol savings are fantastic we have 2 cars and we have saved our $60.00 in that alone. One question how can Woolies and Coles sell discounted petrol in this area but not anywhere else they are ripping us off. I now shop Costgo and Aldi don’t need the others” – Evelyn H., Product Review Australia