Sam’s Club announced this week it is offering Sam’s Club Plus members free shipping for 95% of products on SamsClub.com—with no minimum order.
Sam’s Club Plus members pay $100 a year to purchase from the bulk products warehouse club retailer, which competes with Costco Wholesale Corp. and with online-only bulk household products retailer Boxed Wholesale. Sam’s Club is owned by Walmart Inc., No .3 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, Costco is No. 9 and Boxed is No. 326. Boxed offers free shipping on a customer’s first order. After that orders totaling $49.00 or more ship free. Orders less that that cost $6.99 to ship. CostcoGrocery, offers Costco members two-day shipping on dry, non-perishable goods. It’s free for orders $75 or more, or a $3 delivery fee for orders under $75.
Sam’s Club Plus members receive more additional benefits over baseline Club members who pay $45 a year, including cash rewards, early shopping hours and pharmacy and optical discounts.
“We work hard to curate the best assortment for our members, and we’re excited to now offer the majority of these items for free shipping,” Jamie Iannone, president and CEO of SamsClub.com, the e-commerce business for Sam’s Club, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.
It also reduced the number of membership levels to two from three before. It used to distinguish between business and non-business members and it no longer does that. Sam’s club didn’t say why it was removing a membership level except to say that it was simplifying its membership structure.
The retailer also said it plans to continue opening new e-commerce fulfillment centers this year but it did not say how many. It recently announced plans to open an e-commerce fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn. It expects to ship its first package from there this spring.
“Our Memphis center will teach us a lot as we build out this new e-commerce supply chain,” Iannone says. “We plan to accelerate growth of this network in the back-half of the year.”
Other regions being considered for e-commerce fulfillment centers include Texas, Central Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, Southern California, Chicago and the Northeast.
Last month, Walmart announced the closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores. Sam’s Club’s fourth quarter comparable store sales increased 2.4% compared with a year earlier.
“We’ve seen continued strength in our e-commerce business and are energized by our progress in scan-and-go, direct-to-home and in-club pickup,” said John Furner, president and CEO, Sam’s Club. “Going forward, we will have three clear priorities—people, product and digital—and we’re working to simplify and accelerate our efforts in these areas.”
Scan and Go is an app Sam’s Club members download that allows them to scan items at a store, pay for them via the app and show a receipt to a store associate on the way out.
Sam’s Club operates nearly 600 stores or “clubs” across the U.S and Puerto Rico, and the clubs average 136,000 square feet.
Walmart will report earnings on Feb. 20, which will include what the retail giant shares of Sam’s Club results.