Subscription Box Insanity: BarkBox vs. Petbox (Dec. ’14)

Happy Holidays from Wednesday!

Happy Holidays from Wednesday!

In case you are tuning in for the first time, let me introduce Wednesday, my slightly spoiled fur-baby who is, in reality, a four-year-old Doberman Pinscher. She is beloved, that’s for sure!

To prove it, I’m putting her two (two?!) subscription boxes- BarkBox and Petbox– head to head to see if a clear winner will emerge. (Though who am I kidding? She will probably continue to get both. -sigh-)

I will actually also be reviewing a special, limited edition Holiday Petbox that I ordered on its own, soon. So stay tuned for some holiday doggy goodness!

On to the show!

See my other Petbox reviews here and my other BarkBox reviews here.

THE DETAILS:

BarkBox is for dogs only and allows you to somewhat personalize your monthly boxes based on the size of your pet. So Wednesday’s box is for larger dogs of course. It is normally $29 a month but I decided to get a full year subscription and, with a coupon I had, got the boxes for about $17 a month. Not bad if you have a heavy chewer like we do. We’d spend at least that much a month on chewing bones, treats, and toys that die quick deaths so it saves us some time having them delivered to our door. The monthly price includes shipping and the box will ship throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Petbox caters to both dogs and cats (and even, possibly, other pets like pigs based on a line I read on their site). They do not currently ship outside of the U.S. and a single box from the deluxe plan (2-3 items a box) will run you $19.95 a month (includes shipping). Groupon recently had a deal, so I picked up the three-month deluxe subscription for $32.99 total- i.e. $10.99 a month. One difference with Petbox is that you can be surprised every month or you can hand-pick your items, so there seems to be quite a bit of flexibility. Especially for those of you with both dogs and cats since you can mix items for both pets in one box. Also, for each box shipped they donate a meal to a rescue animal; there is a place on their site for rescue organizations to sign up to be partners.

BARKBOX REVIEW

Holiday Wrappings

Holiday Wrappings

Here’s the cute, Halloween-themed paper that came with this month’s box. A nice touch!

First Look

First Look

And now for the big reveal! BarkBox usually includes a fun card stating the theme (Halloween). On the opposite side, a list of the items in the box and their codes are available for quick re-order.  I’ve never used this service, which involves texting in with the reorder code. So if any of you have, let me know how it is? By the way, I believe nearly all of the items BarkBox sends are made in the U.S. which is just another reason this subscription is a winner in our books.

Safemade Green Sweater Bandana

Safemade Green Sweater Bandana

Yay! This bandana by Safemade is of a pet-safe material in a festive holiday sweater pattern. It is thin like a cotton or blend but has a finished/sewn edge. Barkbox lists the retail value at $10 which seems a bit high. Still, it did complete W’s holiday outfit!

R2Pet Zany Ziggler Giggler Moose

R2Pet Zany Ziggler Giggler Moose

This strange, long-necked, plush toy is a moose, not a reindeer as I first thought. When you shake it, it makes a weird giggle sound that Wednesday is not sure she likes. I have mixed feelings about it as well because I know the neck will be torn off  first thing. It is listed on the card as R2Pet Zany Ziggler Giggler Moose but I couldn’t find this product online. Barkbox lists its value as $11.

Primal Freeze-Dried Beef Liver Munchies

Primal Freeze-Dried Beef Liver Munchies

These Primal Freeze-Dried Beef Liver Munchies are much more up our alley. They are actually a substitute item for what was supposed to be sweet potato/kale treats. Those also would have been nice. These have a retail value of $7.79.

Butcher's Block Bones 6" Trachea treat

Butcher’s Block Bones 6″ Trachea treat

This Butcher’s Block 6″ Krunchie Tube also does not appear for individual retail sale. It’s a bit of an off-putting treat when you stop to think about it but I’m guessing Wednesday will enjoy it. Retail value is listed as $2.

Etta Says Rabbit chew

Etta Says Rabbit chew

More treats! We try not to give W too many, so with this lot, it looks like we won’t have to buy any for a really long time. She’s had these Etta Says treats before and this one is made of rabbit. This item retails for $0.99.

In evaluating her haul, we’ve got some nice things though it is heavy on the treats this time.By my calculation, the total dollar value comes to about $31.78. That’s more than the discounted $17 I paid. Let’s see how Petbox does this month.

PETBOX REVIEW

Petbox is here!

Petbox is here!

First look: We've fed a hungry pet!

First look: We’ve fed a hungry pet!

The final box of my three month subscription from Petbox has arrived! Their packaging does a great job of reminding you that your purchase has also done some good for a homeless pet. Nice!

First Look

First Look

Here’s the first look. Looks like this time there are four items (the deluxe version only promises 2-3) which is great.

Poo bags

Poo bags

The very first item I pull out is always welcome. It is a four pack of fully compostable/flushable doodie bags by Flush Puppies. Retail value is $6.25.

Buckworthies Long Curly Bully Stick

Barkworthies Long Curly Bully Stick

The Barkworthies Long Curly Bully Stick also looks like a great treat that W will love. It has a retail value of $3.99.

Bacon Flavored Dog Spray

Bacon Flavored Dog Spray

It looks like this Bacon Flavored Dog Food Spray is made by a small business so I love it even more. Wednesday always gets finicky when we get to the bottom of a food bag since it’s not “as fresh”. Maybe this will help! This size retails for $6.99.

Blue Dog Bakery Dog Treats: Peanut Butter & Molasses

Blue Dog Bakery Dog Treats: Peanut Butter & Molasses

Last but not least are these Blue Dog Bakery Peanut Butter & Molasses treats. These are also a substituted item from something that was out of stock. This size retails for around $2.65.

So the grand total value for this box is $19.88. With my coupon I got each box for $10.99 but a normal deluxe box runs for $19.99. That means that at normal price I would have been just below breaking even, even with four products versus the 2-3.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Okay, so now for the head-to-head comparison:

  • NUMBER of ITEMS: This month’s BarkBox had 6 items– a toy, a clothes item, and three treats. Petbox had 4 items– three treats and one non-treat item. BarkBox wins.
  • TOTAL VALUE: Barkbox had a total value of $31.78, or $5.30 per item. Petbox had a total value of $19.88, or $5 per itemBarkBox wins. (Though I will note that it’s possible the bandana was a bit over-priced which means that they’d be about even in value per item.)
  • VALUE vs. MONTHLY COST GAIN: I paid $17 for Barkbox, so I experienced a gain of $14.78. I paid $10.99 for Petbox, so I experienced a gain of $8.89. BarkBox wins.
  • INTANGIBLES: Both of these boxes included mostly treats versus toys. We originally bought these boxes so we can have more toys since W goes through them so quickly. Tie between Petbox and BarkBox.

It looks like that BarkBox technically came out ahead this month. As well, they came out ahead in the three-box trial. However, I do feel like both of these boxes would do well to source more toys to include in their boxes. It would make W and I both much happier! I’ll also note that when it comes to their Limited Edition boxes, Petbox so far has demonstrated a pretty high value. So perhaps that’s the way to go on that front. (Check out the October box review here and the Holiday box review here.)

What do you all think about this double-header? Would you decide differently?

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2 thoughts on “Subscription Box Insanity: BarkBox vs. Petbox (Dec. ’14)

  1. Hey it’s very useful after reading all three months’ comparison. One thing you should consider is comparing the % of gain in value instead of the actual $ of gain. After all, you pay more on Barkbox, you would gain more, right? I think comparing the $ makes more sense here. Cheers!

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    • Thanks Jerry! I will take a look at this and potentially re-work. I tried to slice the value question a couple of different ways because to me it was theoretically possible that either box could send me higher value items/experience a higher $ value gain irrespective of what I originally paid. It would all depend on whether they could procure higher value items or just more items. I’m a nerd at heart though so happy to run the numbers the other way and see what that reveals! =o)

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