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

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

The company also said it was converting a former Sam's Club store in Memphis into a fulfillment center for online orders, and planned to open other e-commerce facilities in Florida, California, the Chicago area and the Northeast in the coming months.

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

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.

"Easier and faster" is how Sam's Club CEO John Furner describes the goal.

Sam's Club executives said in a call with reporters that it was still too early to say how numerous thousands of workers who had been displaced by store closings would find new jobs at the company.

The company will offer free shipping on 95 percent of the items it sells online, with no minimum order size for Sam's Plus members, Jamie Iannone, chief executive of SamsClub.com, said on the conference call.

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The retailer also is lowering membership for additional Club memberships to $40, it stated.

Sam's Club has announced that it is "simplifying" its membership structure by reducing the number of types to two: Club for $45 a year, a membership level formerly known as Sam's Savings, and Plus for $100.

More: See if your Sam's Club is closing.

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".

The company last month shut 63 stores, or about 1/10th of its total, and laid off almost 10,000 workers after a review of profitability.

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