Have you seen Casa.com, the newest addition to the family of sites that includes Soap.com, BeautyBar.com (beauty products); Wag.com (pet supplies), YoYo.com (toys and games), and Diapers.com (baby care)? As you may have guessed, Casa sells things for the home, from lightbulbs to sheets to storage containers to slipcovers. How does Casa fare against Amazon?
Well, what was not obvious without a little digging is that the Soap and Casa sites are actually owned by Amazon. In April 2011, the umbrella company of Soap et al, which is called Quidsi was acquired by Amazon, though Quidsi continues to operate independently out of its New Jersey headquarters. Still, the sites are different from a consumer's point of view. How do they compare in terms of cost, range of products, shipping policies and ease of use?
Well, I did a little comparison shopping--unscientific research that would not stand up in the court of law (or the court of public opinion). Based on my findings:
Range of products: It is worth your while to shop both sites when it comes to range of products sold. Amazon obviously has the overall edge here given that the Quidsi sites sell products that fall within a limited range of categories. When I searched for specific items I found that Casa does indeed sell quite a few things not available on Amazon. Some things on Casa are available on Amazon but not eligible Amazon Prime, which means shipping may be extra (depending on the product).
Price: Again my research suggests that Amazon is indeed often cheaper--but not always. In many cases the prices were comparable. For the things I was looking for Amazon was a bit cheaper overall, but with some products Casa was cheaper. And Casa and its sister sites offer sales and "eCoupon" specials. Again, it is worth checking out both sites to price compare because Amazon's pricing is so complicated because it spans multiple non-Amazon sites. According to this article in the Economist from last year, a study by an investment bank compared the prices of 100 randomly selected goods at each of 24 American retailers with those items on Amazon. The study concluded that almost half of the Amazon goods were also listed on the online retailer's site. Moreover, Amazon's prices for individual products were on average 11% below those of the stores. This study did not include the Quidsi family in its comparison but my comparison shopping does suggest Amazon has the edge in pricing here, too.
Layout and Ease of Use: I personally think the Quidsi family of sites wins in this category. Because it offers a narrower more defined range of products, the site is very tidy and easy to navigate. I especially like how Casa is organized by the rooms in your home, which is such a nice way to shop.
Shipping: Most orders from Soap and its affiliated sites arrive within 2 days. Shipping is free if you spend more than $39, which is easy if you shop across all sister sites (all of your purchases go into a single cart). As for Amazon, Prime is the way to go for free shipping but not all products are eligible for Prime. Shipping costs vary depending on the product and the individual seller (which is not always Amazon itself).
Here is a sample of products I looked up on both Casa.com and Amazon (prices rounded up to nearest dollar):
• Tocca candle (Florence collection) is $38 from Casa and the same from Amazon.
• Bissel Steam & Sweep hard wood cleaner is about $129 at both Amazon and Casa.