Costco Case Study Narrative Essay

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Christopher Gildea

Costco Case Study Seminar:  Business Policy and Strategy Professor Gregory P. Grogan Abstract ?Costco, a discount warehouse based in Issaquah, Washington, specializes in selling quality products at low prices. The company operates as a membership retailer, focusing its business on small and consumers with incomes averaging $75,000 with over 30 percent having incomes of $100,000 or more annually. The wholesale club segment of retailing in 2008 was estimated to be a $120 billion business in the United States, and it was growing about 20 percent faster than retailing as a whole (Thompson, 2010).

The three main competitors were Costco Wholesale, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale. Costco has a majority of the warehouse club sales across the United States and Canada and is looking to keep its edge. ?The pricing strategy that Costco has implemented, focuses on the price-sensitivity of its consumers. The company has excelled in keeping its prices low by capping the markup on its merchandise. By keeping the markup lower than its competitors, Costco has provided its customers with deep discounts on over 4000 products within its stores.

Sam’s Club, which offers the same number of products within its stores, earns half the income that Costco does at each store. Costco sales are even higher per store than BJ’s, which offers 7,300 items compared to 4,000 items at Costco and Sam’s Club. Costco has been very efficient at utilizing its floor space and generating high revenues from it products within its stores. ?Costco is trying to generate huge sales volume and quick inventory turnover by applying a business model that offers limited selections of nationally branded product in wide range of merchandise categories.

Costco apply number of operating excellence such as efficient way of managing inventory and just in time inventory, efficient distribution, minimum merchandise handling, and volume purchasing to reduce the price of its product. One of the major benefits of high sales volume and rapid inventory turnover is that they can sell their inventory and receive cash that can be used to pay its vendors and take the advantage of early-payment discounts. ?Even with the low price strategy, Costco employee salaries and benefits are by far higher than its competitors.

This compensation has motivated it employees and retain good workers in turn, Costco gets lower turnover and higher productivity. Combined with a smart business strategy that sells a mix of higher-margin products to more affluent customers, Costco actually keeps its labor cost lower that its competitors as a percentage of sales (Ampel, 2004). They are also retaining more employees than any of their peers. ?Costco has strong ethics within its company, developing a motivating workplace for its employees to flourish within the company. They prefer to develop their employees within the company.

When doing this, they have turned down outsiders who may be able to bring in new innovations that can propel the company further ahead of its competitors. New recruits and experienced businesspeople have been overlooked. As the world becomes more globalized, the company needs to look at intelligent outsiders who can have a significant impact on the company. The strategy they have in place deters the company from accepting outside viewpoints, which could bring greater profits. ?One of the major strategic drawbacks of Costco is that they only carry a selection of 4,000 types of merchandise.

This is less than most of their competitors, and may cause major problems in the future because most customers want choices. Costco has ignored many of its customers’ requests to stock certain goods in order to only sell products that will sell quickly. Though there method has been very successful, the company should increase it products that they sell in its stores. This increase could be between 1000 to 1500 products with the store brand Kirkland involved. ?Costco has some other operational level problems that in some extent hinder the overall companywide effectiveness and goals achievement.

For example, they don’t accept all kinds of credit card from the customers (only American Express); though it is done to minimize the cost of overall operation. Their competitors are capitalizing on use all major card cards. Since November 10, 2006, Sam’s Club began accepting payment via MasterCard credit cards. The results with MasterCard were favorable; company officials reported that in the week following the MasterCard acceptance, the average ticker checkout at Sam’s Club was up 35 percent (Thompson, 2010). To allow their customers the use of different payment options will ultimately bring ore sales. Conclusion ?It is never acceptable to simply do business the way it has always been done because the market changes, the industry evolves, and numerous other external factors make it absolutely necessary for a business to evolve to retain or gain market share. This is particularly important in the industry Costco is in. The company needs to focus on it customer needs, its future hiring/company growth, and opening up to different payments. With an improved strategy in place, Costco can continue to service its customers, while satisfying the needs of its shareholders. ?


Ampel, F. J. (2004, Embracing costco-ization — unlike most big-box retailers, costco’s success is based on its high-quality service and superior product mix.

Residential Systems, 5, 28-28.

Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/200686953? accountid=9997 BJ’s Wholesalers homepage, accessed at http://bjs. com on April 8, 2013 Costco homepage, accessed at http://costco. com on April 8, 2013 Sam’s Club homepage, accessed at http://samsclub. com on April 8, 2013 Thompson, A. A. , Strickland, A. J. , Gamble, J. E. (2010). Crafting and Executing Strategy. McGraw-Hill/Irwin. 17th ed.


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