Costco is an American multinational corporation which operates a group of membership-only warehouse clubs. As of 2017, Costco has a total of 746 warehouses, specifically 518 in 44 states in the United States and Puerto Rico, 98 in 9 provinces in Canada, 37 in 18 states in Mexico, 28 in the United Kingdom, 26 in Japan, 13 in South Korea, 13 in Taiwan, 9 in Australia, 2 in Spain, 1 in Iceland and 1 in France. As of today, there are 90.3 million members.
Costco offers products that are low priced but at the same time with high volume. They are usually in large quantities and marketed among big families and businesses. Costco does not allow selling of the same kind of product with different brands instead they will promote the brand the buyer had bought the product from and that is why the vendors will definitely have higher sales. The warehouse carries 4,000 districts of products.
If the management notice that the prices are a bit too high for the wholesale product, they will refuse to sell the item. Costco saves money because they do not stock extra bags or packing materials to carry out the products, the customers will use the shopping cart or bring their own bags or use empty shipping boxes from the company’s vendors.
Even on electricity, the Costco warehouses can save. They don’t use interior lights during the daytime, they let the skylight fill the warehouse. Costco stores are only open for members and guests except for purchases like gasoline and liquor but this is only found in some states in the United States and Canada. There are different membership fees for each area take for example in Australia, their membership fee is A$55 per year for business membership or A$60 for Gold Star membership.
Forms of Payment
- Cash Card– these cash cards can be bought at the warehouse or online and members can just load them with money to make non-cash purchases at all Costco warehouses in Australia and the United States. For Costco gasoline, you can only purchase it by Visa credit cards (this is applicable in the United States only), Costco cash, debit card and MasterCard (only in Canada), for people who want to purchase the gasoline but with check or cash, they need to avail the following items before filling up.
- Credit cards– in online, Costco.com only accepts Discover Card, MasterCard, PayPal Credit and Visa cards
- SNAP benefits in the United States only- a response to the poor economy, in May 2009, they approved to accept SNAP benefits on a trial basis in New York, Indiana and Michigan then going nationwide.
The members can be refunded in full at any time before they expire except cameras, cam recorders, cellular phones, computers, digital audio players, projectors, television, and major appliances, these can be returned within 90 days of purchase.
Aside from the products Costco offers, there are also services such as:
- Concierge service- the company acts as an investment broker and travel agent. Costco Photo Center is a multi-functional photography printing hub that offers services at the warehouse and at the website, costcophotocenter.com.
- Costco Auto- the company usually teams up with numerous automobile manufacturers such as Polaris.
- Benefits of Costco Auto Program:
- A low, prearranged price for Costco members
- All available national manufacturer incentives
- Easy, hassle-free experience at more than 3,000 hand-picked dealerships nationwide
- Very flexible and understanding dealers
- Costco business services– In partnership with NOVA Information Systems to market and support payment processing services to Costco members
- Costco Optical– optometrist can assess patients without Costco memberships but the members need to fill a prescription at the optical department
- Costco Travel– the program offers vacation packages to the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Florida, Las Vegas, Mexico and the South Pacific. Product includes car rentals, cruises, guided vacations and theme park packages.
- Food Service– only a few of the Costco warehouses do not have a food court. Some are placed outside or inside but the menu is just the same.
- Online photo site– but around 2015, the site was disabled and was rumoured to have been hacked.
- Online shopping– in 2001, Costco Wholesale launched an online shopping site at Costco.com for faster and easier business shopping. On October 2017, they offered same day and two-day grocery delivery options for the members.
Now, Costco Wholesale plans to launch an online store in Australia within 12 to 18 months to extend its reach and adds pressure on local retailers since Amazon also officially launched its site and has entered the market.
According to the Costco Australia managing director Patrick Noone, the Costco website will be up and running in early 2019 and will have enough space for the consumer to explore the website. Since Australia is such a big country and the population is spreading out, it’s hard to get from Wagga Wagga to Costco in Sydney that is why the website was developed to give an opportunity to people to buy the items the company sells.
The store is about 14,000 square meter and sells about 37,000 product lines such as branded food and groceries, clothing, consumer electronics and small appliances, hardware and auto supplies, housewares, beauty and healthcare products and office supplies, even toys, books and fuel can be found there. Costco is about 25% cheaper than the rest of the competitors.
Costco makes the most out of every annual membership fee since they only got 10% of its revenue. “We only make few pennies but the more you sell the more you make. It’s the old retail adage; pile it high and watch it fly,” said Mr. Noone.
Costco’s focus was not only on market share but on sales as well which have raised to more than the double since 2013 in some areas in Australia. They make top-line sales by having the members come back and shop with them and make their membership renew annually. Even though they doubtful on where they would land after but surely they will last for a long time.
By this time, most of the Australian should have a feeling of bliss because Costco Wholesale is coming to town.