In addition to jumbo-sized snacks and bulk beverages, Sam’s Club business members can now purchase a whole suite of services from the retailer in order to streamline their entrepreneurial pursuits.
While the Walmart-owned retail warehouse is frequented by tens of millions of American consumers, the chain says it welcomes roughly 600,000 small-business owners within its 643 clubs every day. Business owners pay a $45 annual membership fee, like regular members, but can have up to eight add-on accounts.
But now, Sam’s is making a louder push to court business owners by offering services in the fields of health care, payroll and legal services -- three areas that entrepreneurs tend to find especially costly and time-consuming, said the company’s president and CEO Rosalind Brewer.
The retailer is working alongside leading industry experts in each respective field -- with Aetna for a personalized health care plan, with Execupay for an outsourced payroll platform and with LegalZoom for estate planning products and independent counsel.
Through its collaboration with Aetna, Sam’s will open private health care exchanges in 18 total states, which will serve as an alternative to the public exchanges created by 2010’s Affordable Care Act. In order to be eligible, a business must count at least two employees, Sam’s said.
Rather than plans that cover all employees uniformly, the Aetna Marketplace for Sam’s Club -- as the collaboration is called -- lets owners offer either a pre-defined plan or a flat, pre-tax contribution that workers can apply to a plan of their choosing. Due to heavy industry regulation, said Sam’s SVP of health and wellness, Jill Turner-Mitchael, pricing for Sam’s plans will be “similar” to those on the public exchange.
With its new payroll service, Sam’s sought to cut down on the valuable time wasted by business owners on back-office activities, said SVP of membership services, Seong Ohm. To this end, Sam’s Club Payroll can be run from a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. “We will hand-hold our members through the whole process of setup and also even do data entry for them,” she said.
Finally, Sam’s legal offering targets the 70 percent of small-businesses owners that avoid legal services altogether -- primarily due to high costs and lack of expertise, according to Ohm. Services provided will include: incorporation, idea protection, draft documenting, estate planning, wills and more. “Members can save up to 25 percent off all LegalZoom products,” she said.
Established roughly 32 years ago by Sam Walton, an entrepreneurial icon in his own right, Sam’s was founded to serve like-minded businesses owners, Brewer said. Other services the retailer offers business members include payment processing, inventory tracking, travel deals and exclusive shopping hours.