Meet the new Sam's Club

Todd Singleton
February 16, 2018

Sam's Club is reducing its membership categories to two - a Club level for $45 a year and a Plus level for $100. "And we are lowering the membership for additional Club memberships to $40", Furner said in a statement on the company's website.

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. 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.

In addition, Plus members will get cash rewards, early shopping opportunities and pharmacy discounts, said Jamie Iannone, executive vice president of membership and technology.

The company will cut its membership levels to two levels from three previously. "After that review, we decided that part of our transformation had to be to simplify our membership offerings".

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Furner said a year ago that the company had chose to sharpen its focus and began catering to budget-conscious shoppers, pulling back from business owners.

Other initiatives have been geared toward that core customer as well, and Furner believes the efforts are gaining traction after Sam's Club reported a net sales increase of 4.4 percent during the third quarter of the fiscal year that ended January 26, while same-store sales increased for the seventh-straight quarter. But when Sam's Club executives were asked by reporters how much the move to roll out free shipping was related to competing with Amazon, they said the new perk was conceived after a year-long process of defining who the core customer is and what they care about.

Sam's Club is rolling out the free shipping for its members one month after abruptly closing 63 of its stores, which represented about 10% of its total locations. Sam's Club is also considering putting up fulfilment centers in other places such as the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, Chicago, Southern California, Central Florida and Texas.

The retailer says it will open its first e-commerce fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn., and expects to ship its first package in the spring. "We are adding more value to our membership, we're making strategic choices and changing how we work to drive visible growth", he added.

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