– Bulk retailer Sam’s Club adds free shipping in bid to compete with Amazon

February 14, 2018

If you can’t beat ‘em, shift to a similar business model. In its struggles to adapt to a post-Amazon retail landscape, Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club is adopting an online membership model notably similar to Prime.

The bulk retailer’s new Plus membership gives shoppers the ability to opt out of shipping costs by ponying up $100 a year — that’s a full dollar more than Amazon’s offering. The deal also includes some in-store retail perks, including earlier shopping hours at the company’s brick and mortars.

Plus joins the retailer’s existing Club membership, which has been streamlined a bit, for those who still like to get into their cars and go places. That’s one’s $45 and like Plus will be available to both individuals and businesses.

The shift in business model comes as Sam’s Club looks to stem the bleeding caused by the rise on online retailers. 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.

That move was part of a larger shift for the business, with up to a dozen of the stores being converted into online fulfillment centers, in an attempt to leverage existing real estate and keep some employees on-board.

The company, unsurprisingly, struck a conciliatory tone during this morning’s announcement. “We’re serious about building a new Sam’s Club, and we’re just getting started,” the company stated in a press release. “Members can expect more from us and we’re excited to exceed their every expectation. This is an exciting time to be in the club and we hope you’ll join us!”

The move comes the same day that its parent company, Walmart, announced the opening of six large server farms in the company’s growing bid to stay on-top of Amazon’s ever growing retail dominance.

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