Sam’s sweetens membership offer for Texans

Just 10 months into her job as president and CEO of Sam’s Club Rosalind Brewer is making major changes to member benefits and implementing a $5 fee increase.

During a presentation at Walmart’s annual analysts’ conference on Wednesday Brewer recapped Sam’s performance, outlined a growth strategy involving a 2013 net increase of between 10 and 15 new clubs and described a wide range of enhancements to Sam’s two membership tiers.

The membership changes were described as a pilot program and what a pilot it is. There are 76 clubs in Texas involved in the program that would appear destined for a national rollout given the magnitude of pilot.

For starters, the Advantage membership tier will now be referred to as the Sam’s Savings membership and the annual fee will increase to $45 from $40 (Costco charges $55).

"This is the very first fee increase since 2006," Brewer said.

While the rate increases by a nominal amount, Sam’s Saving members gain access to a discount program that was previously reserved for members at the $100 Plus membership tier. The saving program was previously known as eValues and it is also being rebranded as Instant Savings to better convey the immediacy of price break.

The Instant Savings are discounts are unique to each member based on their purchase history and suppliers who participate in the program. The savings are automatically loaded monthly onto members’ cards and available offers can be checked by logging in to SamsClub.com, downloading and logging in to the Sam’s Club mobile phone app, by signing up for Instant Savings emails or by scanning their membership card at the Instant Savings kiosk in their local Club.

The Instant Savings program was initially developed as an exclusive Plus member benefit to promoted upgrade activity. Now that the benefit is being extended to all members Sam’s had to sweeten the offer for Plus members so they now benefit from a cash rewards program. Plus members will now receive a $10 cash reward for every $500 spent with an annual maximum earning potential of $500. The cash rewards are in addition to cash reward members earn by participating in the Sam’s Club Discover Card program.