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Sam’s Club adds new services for its small-business members


Bentonville, Ark. -- Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division is launching new, high-value services for small-business owners as it looks to differentiate itself from Costco while fending off competition from well-capitalized online startup

The five new services Sam’s Club announced on April 22, are designed to make running a small business easier. They are focused on financial services, identity theft protection and online marketing and have the potential to save members as much as $2,300 annually. According to Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer the service offerings are in response to input from members who want to simplify the way they work, live and operate their businesses.

“They need more time, more money and easier access to services. With the services we’re introducing today, our members can now rely on Sam’s Club for great merchandise and one network for services to help them save money for their business and personal needs,” Brewer said.

Among the services being offered from providers with recognizable brands are:

• Identity theft protection from industry leader Lifelock at a 25% discount on the annual rate.

• Accounting services and tax preparation from 1-800Accountant starting at $29 a month. A network of accounting experts provide bookkeeping and tax filing through an easy-to-use platform accessible from multiple devices.

• A Sam’s Club Business Lending Center that provides access to capital of as much as $350,000 by connecting business members to responsible lenders and credit options through Lending Club, SmartBiz and Sam’s Club Business MasterCard.

• Enhanced payment processing solutions provided by industry leader and long-time Sam’s Club partner First Data. The enhanced offering brings in-club business consultants and centralized payments and point of sale technology to business members to help streamline and simplify operations.

• Online marketing services provided by at a 36% discount. has created five member-exclusive digital marketing bundles, including do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-for-me (DIFM) plans for digital marketing services such as Web site design and social media strategy.

“At Sam’s Club, we see services as a way to extend the value of membership,” said Seong Ohm, senior VP of membership services for Sam’s Club. “We chose every partner based on their proven track record, customer service, commitment to technology and ability to deliver significant savings. This portfolio of services is about giving members more ways to use technology to enjoy the benefits of membership inside and outside the club.”

In addition to the retailer’s long-standing value proposition of low prices on bulk goods and high quality products, Sam’s has been on a major push under Brewer’s three year tenure as CEO to increase the value of membership with an expanding array of services grouped in broad areas of business, home and life.

The strategy is paying dividends in terms Sam’s ability to attract new members, retain existing members and promote upgrade activity to its $100 membership level called Plus. The Plus penetration rate is said to be at an all-time high (Sam’s doesn’t disclose the actual percentage) and in the fourth quarter membership and other income increased 8.7% when adjusted to excluded the benefit of an unrelated real estate gain the prior year.

Sam’s Club currently operates 649 clubs throughout the U.S. and ended last year with annual sales of $14.9 billion but does not disclose what percentage of sales it derives from the increasingly robust offering of services.

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