Understanding Costco Memberships: Gold Star

Costco’s Gold Star membership is designed for consumers on an entry-level basis in terms of pricing and benefits. At around $55.00, this membership is for individuals who do not qualify for, or do not need a business membership. It includes a card for your spouse and gets you into Costco, saving money at any warehouse or online at Costco.com. This membership is suited for customers, who do not expect the return from the 2% “cash back” program.

If you are a supplier who is seeking to bring your product into a Costco warehouse or are interested in beginning the process, VendorCo can help. Call us at 949-600-7688 or email help@vendorco.com.

Costco In-Store Sales Opportunities

Costco has over 400 warehouses in the US alone, and orders are often placed by the truck load. Including potential reorders, it is easy to see that in-store sales opportunities can be greatly advantageous to potential vendors.

It is important for Costco hopefuls to understand that not all products selected for in-store placement will be on the sales floor all year round. Costco is well known for having a “treasure hunt” atmosphere, and members understand that products on the sales floor are constantly being circulated in and out. This is why it is extremely important to have a sales plan that keeps your products on the floor at all times.

For expert representatives that can help you sell your product to buyers and develop a plan for successful Costco sales, contact VendorCo at help@vendorco.com.

More Information

Although getting your products through the early stages of program development is a step in the right direction, establishing a price is perhaps one of the more pertinent steps that a vendor will set out to accomplish. Establishing a price is paramount with what visions you have set out with your company and with Costco. This will take careful consideration of key costs and hidden costs that are most often times more difficult for the seller to anticipate.

It is important that you understand how Costco functions and operates when you negotiate pricing with the warehouse company. Costco’s pricing structure varies greatly from other retailers that you may be accustomed to. Partnering with a manufacturer representative could be the key difference piece to creating a Costco appropriate sell price. To learn more about pricing your product, get help from a representative at VendorCo to help get you situated. Contact us at: help@vendorco.com.

Costco Retainer Fees

One of the main concerns vendors have when starting business with Costco is related to the release of payment. Like any contract, when you partner with Costco you will negotiate payment terms; however, your terms will not necessarily guarantee the release of full payment. Consideration for end of program costs must be taken into account, and Costco will either require or provide the option of holding a retainer for some of these funds.

With Costco’s “Treasure Hunt” atmosphere, items are constantly moving in and out, and exit strategies must be planned appropriately. There are costs to consider with the end of a program, including potential markdowns, discounts, or other adjustments, shipping of returned product on a guaranteed sale, and of course, returns that may continue to come through after the product has been moved off the sales floor. A retainer provides the option for Costco to hold some of the Purchase Order funds to account for these costs. Although it may not seem ideal, retainers benefit and provide assurance to both the vendor and Costco. The vendor would otherwise be required to send a check each and every time the balance falls below zero – that would mean sending a check for each and every return, which could be an accounting and labor nightmare.

A knowledgeable manufacturer representative like VendorCo can help you plan your exit strategies appropriately, including an appropriate and reasonable plan for end of program costs. To set a strong foundation on your product’s prices, contact help@vendorco.com for more details about how our services will best serve you.

Costco Regional Sales: Departments

Common knowledge to both consumers, manufacturers, factories, buyers, etc. is the concept of splitting up items by department. Products are categorized together based on function and familiarity and organized accordingly on both the physical sales floors and the digital web store. This is true for nearly all retail outlets. Costco’s regional offices are split up according to departments similarly to the national office.

For some items, you may find that Costco’s department breakdown differs from other retail avenues. Perhaps your item falls into the Lawn & Garden category within your retailer’s ecommerce department. You may be surprised to find that Costco’s department crossover could land you in Sporting Goods, or even Hardware. Additionally, some of the larger departments within Costco are split up between two buyers, so you may have to dig even deeper to identify your department.

Department identification is pretty black and white for some items – for instance, a couch will always be furniture. However, for some of the more niche, creative items that fill a unique consumer need, it could help to have an extra set of eyes review before identifying your department. This is important for correctly identifying the right buyer, so your first attempt at pitching your product is navigated correctly. VendorCo can help with this. Contact us today at help@vendorco.com. We can help cut the guess work and get your item in front of the right person.

Costco Shipping More Information

Costco operates a streamlined supply chain that minimizes material handling and promotes efficient packaging, which gives them a competitive advantage and adds to the low cost pricing structure that members are so accustomed to. In a matter of hours, goods can be transferred from the depots to the sales floor, or direct-to-store from manufacturers.

Vendors are responsible for arranging transportation and all other logistics in shipping their product from origin to Costco. Understanding all aspects of the shipping process for in-store and .com is vital to the smooth operations of your program. If you need help with this complex choreography, work with an experienced representative at VendorCo. We can help you prepare and plan to ship to Costco, and cut out the guess work. Email us at sale@vendorco.com.

Costco Shipping Pallets

Understanding Costco’s pallet requirements is an important piece to shipping, as well as quoting your final price. Depending on whether you are shipping domestically or internationally, you may need to account for the cost of pallets in your final pricing. Additionally, Costco’s pallet requirements could be vastly different from how you are accustomed to shipping. If your price is quoted with the wrong pallets, it could be a potential pricing and logistical disaster. Your pallets must meet particular sizing, construction, and heat treatment guidelines to avoid shipment refusal, and all may vary by country.

So how do you plan ahead? Costco provides the detailed pallet specifications as a part of the new vendor packet; however, at this time, pricing would have already been submitted. Costco’s vendor documents are not easily found, and will generally not be provided until a program is accepted.The best way to plan ahead is to partner with a 3rd party rep like VendorCo. Contact us today to find out more information about our services, and how you can cut out the guess work: help@vendorco.com.

Where can I send my products for Costco review?

It is not recommended that potential vendors send samples directly to Costco’s corporate offices for review prior to making contact with the buyer, especially if you are working independently. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that you should ensure you are working with the correct contacts before proceeding. It can be a nuisance to the buyers if you mistakenly send your product to the incorrect contact. Also, if your product is not a good fit for Costco, it will simply be a waste of the buyer’s time. They do not appreciate receiving unwanted samples that they then must spend their time disposing of.

Before sending your products to Costco, it would benefit you to receive feedback from an impartial third party, even if you prefer to proceed independently. VendorCo offers a sample review service and telephone consultations with one of our expert representatives. If you would be interested in representation, or if you would like your sample reviewed before proceeding independently, contact us to arrange for a sample review at help@vendorco.com or (949) 600-7688.

Costco Strategic Plan

Doing business with Costco requires a Costco strategic plan. This is a plan laid out specifically for your Costco Wholesale program, and includes planning for all pieces necessary for success. This includes, but is not limited to, accounting for the following:

  • Appropriate buyer identification
  • Costco friendly presentation creation
  • Appropriate pricing, including allowances
  • Sample requests
  • Testing requirements
  • Audits
  • Packaging (different if in-store, .com, road show, etc.)
  • Shipping requirements
  • Potential customer service issues
  • Returns and damages
  • Exit strategies

Each individual point does not stand on its own. For example, identifying the appropriate buyer requires researching which department your item would most appropriately fit (with Costco, this may differ from your other retailers), which method of communication is most appropriate (telephone, e-mail, mail, etc.), and which avenue of Costco you are pursuing (Costco.com, Costco In-Store, Costco Travel, etc.) As you can see, doing business with Costco can be extremely complex!

Costco is extremely unique in regards to their buying processes. Preparing for a Costco program is generally very different from other retail strategies. So how can you best prepare for doing business with Costco? VendorCo is the answer! We make it easy to develop your Costco strategic plan, providing you with our advice and guidance every step of the way. The proof is in our successful history of placing products, just click here to see a sample of our success stories: LINK.

You could be next! All you need to do is contact VendorCo, and get help with your Costco strategic plan. E-mail us at help@vendorco.com today!

Rejected Programs: flawed PRESENTATION

The importance of your product presentation cannot be stressed enough. If your presentation is flawed, you risk missing out on an exceptionally lucrative relationship. It is important to note, that when we refer to flawed presentation, we do not mean simple errors that could be noticed by any writer, marketing expert, financial representative, etc. When we refer to flawed presentation, we are referring to presentations that do not provide adequate information that is specific to a Costco program.

Did you know that some Costco departments have a checklist for the information that they require to be included? Missing information may result in your presentation being overlooked entirely. Costco buyers view countless presentations on a daily basis, and they simply do not have the time to hand-hold every offer and provide you with a detailed list of what they need. It is the vendor’s responsibility to ensure that all necessary information is provided.

However, there is a balance between providing enough information, and providing too much.  Too much erroneous information and fluffy dialogue can distract from the points that Costco finds exceptionally valuable. As previously noted, Costco buyers are busy! They certainly will not be interested in a 50 page presentation that requires a large chunk of their time to analyze, especially when the information they require should easily fit on just a few, simple pages. It is important to include all important details, while still respecting the buyer’s busy schedule. The easier you make their job…well, I’m sure you can imagine the benefits that will provide you.

VendorCo has perfected the presentation process based on years of experience working with Costco buyers. We are aware of the information the buyers are looking for, in the format they prefer, through the avenue they appreciate. As a VendorCo client, we can even create the presentation for you, providing you access to our trade secrets that can only be acquired through years of experience. If you are interested in taking advantage of VendorCo’s knowledge of the Costco processes, contact us today!