Sam’s Club Wants To Shed Its Walmart-Like Persona

Oftentimes, children of successful, well-known parents struggle to get out from their elder’s shadow. Such is the case for warehouse retailer Sam’s Club, which announced its desire this week to break away from its parent company Walmart.

The company announced a new strategy over the weekend that aims to differentiate the shopping experience at Sam’s Club from that of Walmart, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“We want to be less of a Walmart,” Sam’s Club chief executive Rosalind Brewer said before unveiling the updated strategy that includes increasing online sales and adding ancillary services like tax preparations.

Under the new plan, Sam’s Club stores will begin catering to households that make more than $45,000 per year, by carrying more organic food, brand-name clothing and higher-end household products like 1,000-count Egyptian sheets.

The changes come after the membership club has struggled in recent years to capture more affluent shoppers, while big box stores have encroached on the company’s former sweet-spot of selling discounted bulk-sized products.

Some analysts say that Walmart itself is responsible for Sam’s Club’s faltering sales and popularity, as the big box retailer is the warehouse store’s largest competitor.

Walmart founder Sam Walton launched Sam’s Club in 1983 as a place for small businesses to stock up on discounted bulk items, the WSJ points out.

However, over the years the two retailer have become more alike, with analysts saying nearly 81% of Sam’s Club shoppers also shop at Walmart.

Brewer doesn’t agree that Walmart is Sam’s biggest rival, but she does believe that the two companies should stick to their own lanes: Sam’s selling bulk items and Walmart selling more single items.

The WSJ reports that Sam’s is already spreading its wings by testing higher-end stores in two regions. Those locations, which aim to attract shoppers from stores like Whole Foods, focus more on individual prepared meals, pricey furniture, apparel and food alongside rows of bulk items typical of the warehouse stores.

This isn’t the first time Sam’s Club has tried to sidestep its parent company. Over the years, the retailer has dabbled in higher-priced products, but turnover in the executive offices has largely hampered those efforts.

Sam’s Club Aims to Be Less Like Wal-Mart [The Wall Street Journal]

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