Sam’s Club overhauls pick-up service with eye on Costco

June 4, 2015, 12:00 PM UTC
ROLLING MEADOWS, IL - JANUARY 12: A Sam's Club store sits next to a Walmart store January 12, 2010 in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photograph by Scott Olson — Getty Images

Sam’s Club, the warehouse club operated by Walmart Stores (WMT), has overhauled its in-store pick-up service for online orders as it looks to gain an edge in e-commerce over archival Costco Wholesale (COST).

The company, the eight largest U.S. retailer with sales of $58 billion last year, already gives customers the option to order products online and pick them up in stores.

But Sam’s Club said Thursday that it has improved the service, renamed “Club Pickup” from “Click ‘n Pull,” to let customers build and save shopping lists online so they can reorder the same items later or do so automatically. They can also get suggestions for substitutions if an item is out of stock. The service, which has an expanded assortment of items available, will be open for business seven days a week rather than just five.

Sam’s Club said that could be particularly handy for its convenience store customers. That part of its business that has struggled as that area of retail has consolidated and tobacco sales softened.

The initiative is just the latest by Sam’s Club to shore up its revenue from business customers, which account for as much as one-third of Sam’s Club’s membership, according to Kantar Retail estimates. But lately, they have been a softer part of its business compared to non-business members, impeding its performance compared to Costco.

We “believe the busiest members will benefit the most, like parents and small business owners who have limited time and the most recurring needs,” said Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer.

This follows other initiatives Brewer described last year in an interview with Fortune, including a big expansion of what it sells online for small businesses.

This service could give Sam’s Club a welcome edge over Costco, which quarter in and quarter out reports better sales numbers. Costco does not yet let customers place orders online that they can retrieve at a warehouse.

Sam’s Club can use the new service to place orders online or through an app, select the location and time they want to pick up the order, and get an email or text alert when the order is ready.

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