Sam's Club is renovating itself

Sam's Club consolidates its membership structure and plans to offer free shipping

Sam's Club is renovating itself

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.

The Walmart-owned warehouse club said in a news release that it's committed to providing "irresistible value, unbelievable items, real convenience and simple choices" to its customers. The company is also lowering the fee for additional Club memberships to $40.

Sam's Club is reducing its membership categories to two - a Club level for $45 a year and a Plus level for $100. Meanwhile, Amazon offers free two-shipping to Prime members.

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Hoping to better compete with arch-rival Costco Wholesale (cost) and Amazon.com, Sam's Club said on Wednesday that it's now offering free shipping for many items to its premium members as part of a restructuring to its membership programs.

Another goal Sam's Club likely has is increasing the awareness for Maker's Mark its private label, which is an umbrella brand for every product of its own, from toilet paper to whiskey that competes with the Kirkland brand of Costco that is hugely successful with sales of more than $15 billion annually. Last month, Sam's Club abruptly announced it was closing 63 of its clubs, as its warehouse stores are called, or roughly 10% of the overall, transforming some of them into distribution centers to better support e-commerce.

Furner says Sam's Club is "being more aggressive on direct-to-home than we've ever been" and that "it's really a big piece of our transformation". Some 95% of the items that it sells on its website with no minimum order, officials said.

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More: Sam's Club closing stores across the U.S.

Plus members will continue to receive other benefits like cash rewards, early shopping hours, and pharmacy and optical discounts. This will reduce population growth in some areas and many competing locations.

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