Sam’s Club, Walmart’s membership warehouse club retailer, is planning to open 30 news stores and five fulfillment centers, its first expansion in about five years.
The new fulfillment centers will be delivered this year, with the first scheduled to be opened in Georgia in the third quarter. The store openings will be spread over several years, with the first new store scheduled to open in Florida in 2024, Chain Store Age reported.
The expansion is being driven by what the company said has been “historic” sales growth and a record rise in membership during the past two years, the report said.
The new Sam’s Club outlets will encompass about 160K SF, an increase of about 20K over the current locations. The company said the larger footprint will expand the stores’ omni-fulfillment options, including dedicated space for curbside pickup, delivery to home and ship-from-club orders.
The fulfillment space in the new stores will include walk-in coolers and expanded loading dock doors allowing greater access for outgoing delivery trucks.
While it did not disclose the locations of the new stores, the company said it wants to put outlets in new markets. Regarding the fulfillment centers, the goal is to bring members “significantly closer” to a supply chain facility. The company also is planning to retrofit some existing facilities to enhance physical and digital capabilities.
According to the report, the new stores will be designed to incorporate several sustainability features, including electrified water heating, low-emissions refrigeration systems, LED lighting and EV charging stations for delivery vehicles.
The new Sam’s Clubs also will have larger in-store health care service space, including patient waiting areas, private consultation rooms and dedicated hearing and optical centers, the report said. New features coming to the stores will include “sushi islands,” full-service floral, walk-in dairy coolers. Several will be adding gas stations.
The company has launched a multi-year plan to modernize its supply chain through new automated distribution and fulfillment centers, aiming for enhanced end-to-end capabilities.
In 2018, Sam’s Club closed 63 outlets in the US as part of a strategic shift to grow its online fulfillment capabilities. About a dozen of these stores were converted to fulfillment centers. The company currently operates 600 stores in the US.
More recently, the company focused on enhancing member experiences with a redesign of service desks, improved lighting and easier navigation of aisles for customers.