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Sam’s Club Gears Up For Costco’s Arrival*

Improving customer service, applying knowledge of local market, and adding alternatives for clients are key elements to competing


September 13, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

While some retailers shudder at the thought of Costco entering the local market, Sam’s Club says it is more than willing to compete.

Sam’s Club will rely on eight years of experience in Puerto Rico to outdo the new competition, according to its Corporate Affairs Director Federico Gonzalez Denton.

"We believe in a free market where there are more choices for consumers. Being open to competition makes us strive to offer more alternatives to consumers and to improve constantly," said Gonzalez Denton. "There has always been competition for Sam’s Club in Puerto Rico. The local cash & carries have competed well."

But new player Costco will make the competition tougher. Costco is a membership club offering bulk products, the same concept as Sam’s Club. The company has announced it will not charge a membership fee for the first year. But Sam’s Club’s will take advantage of its accumulated knowledge to reinforce customer satisfaction.

"We’ve established relationships with regular members and suppliers. We’re also communicating with commercial members to know their needs. Contacting them is crucial because we must know what they want," said Gonzalez Denton.

Costco, like Sam’s Club, integrates ancillary services in its warehouses. In fact, both are currently applying for convenience & need certificates required by the Health Department to open pharmacies in their local stores.

As reported earlier in CARIBBEAN BUSINESS, Costco will open two stores in Puerto Rico by November in Caguas and Bayamon.

Outdoing Costco’s customer service record may not be an easy task. It ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction polls performed by the University of Michigan in 1999 and 2000. And Costco has an 86% membership renewal rate, according to Roger Campbell, Costco’s senior vice president and general manager of the Southeast region.

*CARIBBEAN BUSINESS goes to press on Mondays, therefore the articles in this edition do not reflect the terrible events occurring in New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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