Sam's Club is renovating itself

Sam's Club is renovating itself

The company added that it is boosting the value of its Plus membership with free shipping on most items sold online, including nearly all of its Member's Mark products.

Sam's Club sells variety of products in-stores and online similar to Walmart but more in bulk deals. As The New York Times notes, the company announced just last month that it was closing 63 retail locations - a fraction its 600+ locations (now down to 597), but a clear sign of a retailer struggling to adapt.

Sam's Club's new perks are part of an overall transformation of the business, which is focused on reducing complexities, "right sizing" its store fleet and improving features like scan-and-go, pickup operations, fresh delivery and digital tools that reorder essentials. The cost for additional Club memberships (formerly Sam's Savings) has been lowered to $40. The offer does not require a minimum purchase, and the available items include almost every product under the company's Member's Mark private label brand.

The shift in business model comes as Sam's Club looks to stem the bleeding caused by the rise on online retailers. The membership will still be priced at $100 annually, and depending on where a member lives, it aims to deliver products to the majority of customers within one or two days, executives said on a conference call to announce the changes. In general, we are optimizing our network and part of why we are making the changes with our warehouses is to get the items closer to our members to speed up the shipping. He defined those target customers as homeowners who earn between $75,000 and $125,000 annually and typically live in the suburbs. Many of them own small businesses, such as restaurants or offices.

"We've taken the a year ago to make sure we are making really clear, deliberate choices in a way that adds value for that core consumer", Furner said. But unlike Prime, Sam's Club won't guarantee two-day delivery - at least not yet. "But it definitely seems like they're really trying to simplify the entire thing to make it more convenient for consumers". By comparison, an Amazon Prime membership that allows for free two-day shipping is $99 a year, and while the company bleeds cash on the logistics of the promise, it's become a huge customer acquisition tool. Although the company had closed down a large percentage of its locations, they will be used for distribution and fulfillment centers. Furner said Tuesday that the center should be ready to ship items by the end of March.

Sam's Club's move is aimed at spurring an uptick in memberships (currently about 47 million) at a time such fees represent the bulk of its in operating profits. Other regions being considered for e-commerce centers include Texas, central Florida, Chicago, Southern California, the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. "With free shipping for Plus, we are more aggressive on direct-to-home eCommerce than we've ever been".

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