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Shipping now free for premium members at Sam's Club

15 February 2018

The retailer also simplified its membership structure by reducing the number of memberships from three to just two: club and plus.

The warehouse club chain is rolling out free shipping on "most of the items" sold online, including almost every Member's Mark private-label item, with no minimum purchase required, the retailer said in a blog on its website.

In order to better position itself against competitors like Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Sam's Club, the bulk retailer owned by Walmart (NYSE: WMT), is now offering free shipping for many items as part of a revamping of its membership programs.

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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. He says the chain is targeting suburban families with children who have annual incomes between $75,000 and $125,000 - which closely tracks Costco's core customers. They will be offered as Sam's Club for $45 a year and Sam's Plus for $100 a year.

"We've taken the past year to make sure we are making really clear, deliberate choices in a way that adds value for that core consumer", Furner said.

Free (or nearly-free) and expedited shipping has become a ground zero of sorts for brick-and-mortar retailers as they aim to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon. "But it definitely seems like they're really trying to simplify the entire thing to make it more convenient for consumers".

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The changes come a month after Sam's Club said it would shut or convert 63 stores.

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.

Additionally, Sam's Club will open its first ecommerce fulfillment center, in Memphis and plans to ship its first package from there in the spring. Other regions being considered for e-commerce centers include Texas, central Florida, Chicago, Southern California, the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. "Closing clubs is never easy and we're committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition".

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It's clearer than ever that free shipping is table stakes in a world where customers are accustomed to Amazon's free two-day shipping promise.

Shipping now free for premium members at Sam's Club