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Costco VS Sam’s Club | Who Will Win?

By Ferdi Vol
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You've heard of the battle of the bands, right? Get ready for the battle of the retail stores. Mega wholesale ones while we're at it. Wholesale stores have always been the craze with their discounted products and bulk purchasing. The most well-known retailers out there are most certainly Costco and Sam's Club. It is to mention that Sam's Club is owned by Walmart.

If there's a battle between the two, it would be best to put your money on Sam's Club as their memberships are way cheaper than Costco's. But overall, if you're planning on saving money on all your products, both these retail stores will have you covered.

If you’re wondering who’ll win in Costco VS Sam’s Club, this is the article for you. So without much further ado, let's take a look at some of the manners in which both these massive retailers differ from one another.

Costco

Costco, what can be called one of the biggest retail outlets in the world, was ranked 14th on the Fortune 500 rankings. It is an American owned multinational corporation that runs a huge chain of warehouse clubs which you can't get access to without membership cards. It's the number one contender for Walmart and hands down the largest retailer of organic foods etc.

It's a public retail industry founded on July 12, 1976, by James Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman. Its headquarters is located in Issaquah, Washington. As of 2019, it is located in 785 areas. Even though Costco runs many stores all over the world, Sam’s Club has more outlets in the USA.

Sam’s Club

Sam's Club is also a membership-based retail outlet. Even though Sam's Club is behind Costco in many areas, it managed to rank in second place in the sales category in the year 2019. So we can conclude that Sam's Club is not far behind when it comes to retail success.

It is a subsidiary local retail industry that was founded on April 7, 1983, by the founder and owner of Walmart, Sam Walton. Clever enough, it is also named after its founder. Its headquarters are in Bentonville, Arkansas. As of 2020, it is located in 599 areas all over the US.

Costco VS Sam’s Club – Which is The Best?

When it comes to choosing between Costco and Sam’s club both of them have something to offer the table. To help you decide which is the retail store for you here I’m going to compare the various aspects of each of these from price, product quality to business policies.

Prices

When there is a buck load of retail stores in your surrounding areas, you'll have a wider range of products to choose from. So, to stay in the competition, retailers need to make sure that they're not losing customers to other retail outlets. And how is that possible? By coming up with unique methods to make sure their customers stay loyal to them.

And how is this carried out? Stores like Walmart and the very famous Dollar General set affordable and low prices to haul in more customers. Having this in mind, it gets a lot easier for stores like Costco and Sam's Club to decrease their prices. Why? Because they're selling all their products in bulk; and bulk buying will always drive down individual prices.

So even though Costco might offer goods at lower prices, you will often find more famous name brands in Sam’s Club when compared to Costco. But Costco does have their private brand called Kirkland which offers lower prices. But we’ll discuss that a bit later.

Product Quality

As Costco has chosen to limit its stock unit, it has had more time to concentrate on improving the quality of its products. Its focus on high-end products with natural and healthier ingredients with no added preservatives has made it possible to offer goods that are of higher quality. Even its celebrated private brand, Kirkland, offers products that are of great quality.

In Sam's case, it mainly stocks goods that have a high name brand. Don't get me wrong, if you prefer name brand products, Sam's your guy. But if it's the organic goods and high-quality products that you're after, then it's a better choice to shop at Costco's.

Organic and Frozen Foods

When it comes to frozen food, Sam’s Club has a larger variety than Costco. You’ll mostly find one of the most amazing and largest frozen aisles when you come to visit the store. And if you’re more into frozen food, you’ll know which one to pick.

If you prefer to dine on organic, then Sam's Club might cause a bit of a disappointment as they don't offer as many choices as your next-door Costco's.

When it comes to Costco, they have a better range and a wider selection of organic products. If you’re tired of eating the regular tea, coffee, and other types of food, you best believe that you’ll find the organic version of that product inside Costco’s.

Clothing & Shoes

When it comes to clothes, both the shops provide identical clothing. So you won’t have to worry about missing out on any signature lines while you’re at any of these stores.

And in the case of shoes, you'll find a range of practical and functional shoes rather than pretty boots. So, if you're looking for fashionable shoes to walk down the aisle in, none of these stores will come to any use.

Then again, if your choice of shoes boils down to how comfortable they are, then you won’t have to go anywhere else.

Size of Interior

The sizes of both these outlets are quite large, but when it comes to Sam's Club, their interior is so massive that it will feel like you're in a tiny city with its very own community.

Truly mind-blowing! And as mentioned earlier, members are also allowed more time inside the store, so you'll be able to use that time to look around and buy more goods at the same time.

Customer Benefits

When it comes to Costco, one of its great benefits is its membership access to its fuel stations. It should be included that Costco's fueling stations are a lot cheaper than the others around the block so it's heavily recommended that you purchase the fuel from them.

When it comes to branded items, Costco has more private brands than Sam’s Club. So, when you’re in a Costco store, make sure you try out their private brand-named Kirkland which offers prices that are generally less expensive than the other products

With Sam’s Club’s membership card, you’ll also be able to have entry to their fueling stations and other centers. You’ll also get other major discounts and reductions on particular resources. Then again, with their valued and cheaper membership fees, customers are more likely to enjoy their time shopping at Sam’s Club without worrying about going bankrupt.

When it comes to returning policies, both these stores have an unlimited time range. So, you can return the products whenever you want. But that's not the case with some products such as electronics. If you face any problems with them, you'll need to return them in 90 days max.

Memberships

When it comes to membership plans, Sam’s Club is treating their customers a bit better with their prices. For regular customers, their ordinary memberships cost around $45 each year and a premium or “Plus” membership that costs them $100 per year. So what’s the deal with the premium membership you ask?

Well, with the premium membership you’ll be able to get free shipping and also other benefits such as cash rewards. They, furthermore, have special hours for the members as well. With Sam's Club membership card, you get to spend extra hours inside the store each morning.

And when it comes to Costco though, their membership programs are a bit more expensive; with regular membership costing $60 annually and a premium one or as they call it, “Gold Star” membership, which is worth $120.

Taking these fees into consideration, we can say that Sam’s Club is doing a lot better in the membership offers field.

International Presence

As stated earlier, Costco is more known worldwide while Sam’s Club is mostly known to the American public.

As a result, you’ll find more Sam’s Club stores in the US. Having such a powerful international presence does give Costco the added benefit of having more loyal customers all over the world.

Growth

When it comes to both the retail shop’s individual growth, Costco is doing a lot better than Sam’s Club and remains to be on a stable and balanced run while some might say that Sam’s Club has had many struggles along the way.

Sam's Clubs had to close down a few stores sometime back when it was struggling with its finances; which is typical in any store's case. But what's interesting is that Costco continues to grow and at a way higher rate to say the least. With Costco's steady run, it's outrageous to question their massive popularity.

It should also be noted that Costco has many more locations all over the world whereas Sam’s Club’s growth has only been limited to the United States.

Online Store

Most of the customers who are into such retail stores like Costco and Sam's Club are more into bulk buying and purchasing things at discounts. When a customer purchases goods in bulk, they're able to enjoy certain benefits and save money at the same time.

With the age of technology, people prefer to buy goods and services online. In such cases, bulk buying has since seen a decline as it's very troublesome to deliver goods in bulk amounts. The more prominent case would be that families are getting smaller and more convenient so they see no benefit in bulk buying.

As a result, a typical family would not feel the need to buy so many products of the same kind at the same time. There’s also the hassle of storing the products. Unless you have a huge storage space or multiple massive freezers, you’ll have quite a difficult time making sure that your purchased items (especially food and vegetables) don’t go rotten.

The Nonmember Experience

If you’re not a member in any of these retail outlets but still want to have the entire experience, you’ll be free to enter and have a look around Sam’s Club. They’re quite liberal when it comes to checking membership cards so you won’t get caught being a nonmember.

But in Costco’s, they tend to be a bit more meticulous when it comes to checking the cards. Chances are that once you enter Costco and get identified as a nonmember, you’ll be requested to get a membership card for further access to the store.

Employee Benefits

It is undoubtedly very important to know how employers are treating their employees at your favorite retail outlet.

Walmart has a reputation for ill-treating their employees so it's no mystery that Sam's Club will likely follow the same policies. And when we compare the pay, Costco is still far ahead. Their cashiers make 28% more and it's known that the pay also increases quite frequently.

At Sam’s, workers are also required to work early morning hours for their special membership customers. So overall, Costco has more benefits to offer when it comes to their employees.

Even after a thorough analysis, it's still quite difficult to pick between the two. If you're going for cheaper prices, Sam's Club is your one-stop to wonderland. Then again, if it's quality that you're after, then you simply can't miss the collection at Costco's.

And Costco even has better benefits for its employees so shopping there will make you feel more at ease as you’ll know that the workers are being well-treated. It also depends on where you live. If you’re closer to Costco than at Sam’s you should probably shop at Costco as you’ll save in transportation fee which will compensate for the more expensive membership fee.

All in all, both are treat outlets to shop at, so it depends on the type of products that you’re willing to purchase. Hope you were able to enjoy the article and make sure you have a wonderful day.

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About the Grocery Store Academy
The Grocery Store Academy is a blog about everything that has to do with grocery stores. This is your #1 spot to find the right information for your needs.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol has worked several years in a grocery store and has a passion for good food. He's happy to share his passion with you!
About Ferdi Vol
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