Costco’s Gold Star membership is designed for consumers on an entry-level basis in terms of pricing and benefits. At $60.00, this membership is for individuals who do not qualify for, or do not need a business membership. It includes a free Household Card 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.
The operating philosophy of Costco is simple: keep costs down as much as possible and pass the savings onto its members. Since Costco has such a large membership base and immense buying power, members ultimately get the best possible prices. Costco is able to keep markups low due to making most of their earnings on membership fees.
A key selling point of Costco is its private label brands, such as Kirkland Signature which was launched in 1995. These private brands are comparable in quality and will always cost less than brand labels, it is no surprise that these brands generate 20% of total revenue.
Are you a black Costco card holder? If so, you are at the most prestigious card holder level. Each executive member must decide if the card is used for personal use or as a business. Both offer the same rewards and extra benefits, such as lower prices on check printing, auto financing, and long-distance phone service.
Executive Gold Star Memberships and Executive Business differ for individuals who set-up under a business. This membership guarantees the “2% Reward” program, that allows members to earn 2% cash back each year. This exclusive membership costs $120.00 annually, but will receive numerous benefits. If you purchase an Executive Business membership, it is available to owners and operators of businesses who want the benefit of the added value of an Executive Membership. The executive member is offered an annual 2% Reward on most of Costco’s products and offered lower prices on member programs. These members are able to add extra cardholders for employees as an additional fee, which differs from only adding family under the Gold Star Executive Membership.
In 1988, Robert Price, President of Price Club said, “We thought of it as a speak-easy. We tried to create a mystique.” At that time, the idea that you could charge people to shop was unimaginable and originally limited to businesses and members of select groups. However, Costco has created a business model that other retailers have since followed.
This month we will discuss Costco Membership, and shed light on the groundbreaking business model that no other retailer has quite been able to match. Included this month will be the following topics:
- Gold Star Memberships
- Business Memberships
- Executive Cardholders
- Rates and Retention
- Added Benefits
- More Reasons to be a Member
In all retail establishments, items found on the sales floor will be accompanied by a price sign. Costco signs include the same basic information: a description, an internal identification number, a price, and supportive details about the item. However, Costco signage can often give away secret clues that can add to a shopper’s experience, but may be easily overlooked if you don’t know how to identify them.
Important to note, prices typically ending in “.97″ have been marked down. Other non-standard prices — such as items ending in .49, .79, .89 — are a sign that this is a special deal from the manufacturer. Sometimes there will be an asterisk (*) on the upper right-hand of the price tag, this indicates Costco does not have plans to re-order that product once the stock is sold out, so it’s important to move fast!
It is important for vendors to understand how Costco establishes pricing. If you are interested in submitting your product into Costco, it is vital to calculate all of the costs associated with your product. Contact one of our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about how we can best serve you.
If you are interested in becoming a vendor at Costco, it is required that you use an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system prior to the start of sales. EDI systems are popular amongst retailers, and it is how Costco organizes and disseminates information concerning their complex logistical and ordering procedures. EDI systems allow two parties to electronically exchange documents without the use of email, fax or mail. For Costco’s purposes, these documents may include purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, bill of ladings, and more.
This communication service can be pricey, and must be compliant with Costco’s requirements. Costco utilizes two EDI service companies for in-store or online ordering. If you are already set-up with EDI for other retailers, do not assume that you are prepared for Costco. There may be costs associated with set up, regardless of your current capabilities.
If you are interested in partnering with a manufacturer representative, and starting out your Costco program right, then contact VendorCo today at email@example.com. We will ensure you are fully informed of the EDI requirements, pricing, and procedures to get the most out of your program.
The formulation of Costco demos did not start until 5 years after the company’s establishment in 1983. These demonstrations were instituted as a way to promote relatively unknown products in Costco’s early stages of development, and over the years have experienced incredible success and popularity amongst Costco members.
Demos are designed to to enroll Costco members by increasing brand awareness and informing members of product attributes and benefits. Most importantly, these demonstrations allow the customers to experience the products for themselves. Many vendors associate Costco demos with food items only; however, the opportunity exists for both food and non-foods items. In fact, non-foods demonstrations are typically even more elaborate than non-foods.
Planning a Costco program with Costco Demos can be taxing. it’s important to consider Costco demonstrations are different from in-line, national programs. Sampling your company’s product in Costco warehouses can be beneficial, but not every seller will be successful in the process. If you’re interested in having your product demonstrated at Costco warehouses and would like an expert Costco Representative to assist, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this month we discussed Costco’s shipping terms and emphasized the importance in understanding the options available. This is also important when it comes to selecting a carrier.
Depending on the shipping terms selected by Costco you may or may not have the freedom to choose your carrier. Also, depending on your terms, you may need to decide on a carrier that offers full truck or LTL shipping. Imagine how detrimental to your costing it would be to quote the wrong way. Once you put your price in writing, you highly risk missing the sale for any potential increases. To insure you are accounting for any/all potential costs, and shipping, partner with a knowledgeable and respected Costco expert representative company like VendorCo. We have the tools and experience you need to obtain your highest potential for success!
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 email@example.com or (949) 326-8909.
Costco no longer provides buyer lists to vendors. You are able to call their corporate office to get the name and information of the appropriate buyer for your department. However, buyers are constantly rotating departments and moving positions, so it is important to stay on top of your department’s movements.
VendorCo maintains our own internal buyer list based on the contacts that we communicate with on a daily basis. Please know that we are not able to share this information with anyone outside of our clientele list. If you are simply looking for the contact information of your Costco buyer, please contact Costco directly.
If you are interested in becoming a VendorCo client, not only will you benefit from up-to-date buyer information, but we will help channel the communications for you. We are in contact with many of the top personnel and buyers at Costco on a daily basis, and can help bring your product to the buyer through a familiar face. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (949) 326-8909.