Sam’s Club is rolling out five new services for small business owners, with the goal of increasing loyalty at the Wal-Mart owned warehouse club.
The company is planning to announce today that it is offering discounts on a number of third-party services designed to make running a small business easier. The new services consist of identity theft protection; accounting services; small loans center; credit card processing; and website design.
While Sam’s Club has already been offering services to small businesses for some time, this marks a major expansion for the Bentonville, Ark.-based company in its quest to compete against rivals, including Costco.
It also demonstrates how competitive membership services have become. Beyond warehouse clubs, like Sam’s Club and Costco, other memberships, including Amazon Prime, or offerings from American Express are always adding one more perk that aims to lock a customer in for life.
Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind “Roz” Brewer argued there’s not necessarily pressure coming from competitors to add perks, but that she’s constantly trying to make customers happy. “This is in response to listening to members,” she said, in a call with the press. “We don’t feel pressured in that way…This is what members want.”
Sam’s Club confirmed that the main goal of adding these programs was to enhance its membership — not to create an additional revenue stream. It disclosed it will be collecting a small percentage of profits from the programs, but that all proceeds will go towards promoting the services through advertising and marketing campaigns.
“When you think about this, this is how we are building loyalty through our membership base. It’s not revenue driven, this is about building an engagement…, and meeting those needs better than the competition and building mutual loyalty,” Brewer said.
Sam’s Club is the eighth largest retailer in the U.S., with annual sales of $56 billion. It has 649 Clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. That makes it smaller than Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco, which has annual sales of $112.6 billion and operates 672 stores worldwide, including 474 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Sam’s Club has two annual membership options at $45 and $100 a year, while Costco has options ranging between $55 and $110.
Some of the new perks being offered at Sam’s Club will only be available to the higher priced memberships, although the company said the cost savings alone will likely immediately pay for the additional cost.
Costco also offers small business services, such as payment processing, identity protection and payroll services. Some of the services being announced today by Sam’s Club go beyond these offerings.
Here are the five new services:
- Identity Theft: Provided by LifeLock, members will save up to 25 percent on annual suport.
- Accounting services: Through a partnership with 1-800Accountant, members will have access to bookkeeping services for as little as $29 a month.
- Sam’s Club Business Lending Center: This program will give customers access to various lenders and credit options.
- Payment Processing: In partnership with First Data, Sam’s Club is offering small businesses discounted payment processing services. The first rate plan that costs $19 a month, and allows companies to accept up to $800 in monthly volume for Visa, MasterCard and Discover charges. A second plan charges a low rate of 1.29 percent plus 15 cents per transaction, up to $350 per transaction.
- Finally, it will also be offering online marketing services: Members who need help with website design or digital marketing services will have access to discounted offers from Web.com.
“Members want us to help them simplify the way the work and live,” Brewer said. “When we think about Sam’s Club members, they have limited time and resources. We are giving them more savings, convenience and more access to on-demand experts to help manage their life and business.”