Sam's Club Offering Free Shipping In Challenge to Costco and Amazon

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Sam's Club is making changes as it looks to compete head-on with rivals Amazon and Costco.

"Easier and faster" is how Sam's Club CEO John Furner describes the goal. In addition to the free shipping, Furner and President Jamie Iannone said the club chain is also trimming membership types to simplify the options for shoppers.

Sam's Club is renovating itself to reduce its membership categories, offer more free shipping and make purchasing easier and faster.

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.

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 Plus level will come with free shipping on the vast majority, some 95%, of the items that Sam's Club says it sells on its website with no minimum order, officials said. 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.

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The company is also consolidating Sam's business and Sam's savings membership programs into one track, still priced at $45 a year, and extending the "add-on" ability so members can give memberships to family, friends or employees for $40. Sam's Club executives plan to assess that facility's productivity before moving forward on transforming other closed stores into distribution centers.

The Walmart-owned warehouse club said in a news release that it's committed to providing "irresistible value, fantastic items, real convenience and simple choices" to its customers.

Sam's Club has said the first store to be converted into an e-commerce center is in Memphis.

The Memphis center will be instructive for Sam's Club as it builds out an e-commerce supply chain to new areas, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Amazon offers free two-shipping to Prime members. Other regions being considered for fulfillment centers include Texas, Central Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, Southern California, Chicagoland, and the Northeast.

Not a member? Sam's Club regularly offers special sign-up deals, like a $10 gift card for new members.

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