Costco Wholesale Corporation was founded in 1974 by Richard H. Segal. At the time, he started a small store in Portland, Oregon selling books and photography. It later grew to a chain of over 500 stores across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Today Costco Wholesale Corporation has developed into a world-class giant with sales in more than one hundred countries. The organization currently has six distribution hubs, including four international locations.
Costco is the largest retailer of memberships in the United States. It is also the largest retailer of memberships in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Currently, as of August 2018, Costco Wholesale Corporation was the third-largest retailer of membership fees in the country and the largest single merchant of membership fees in the world. A Costco membership is valued for its accessibility, security, selection, and price advantages. The company has gradually grown to become the biggest and most recognized wholesaler of memberships and other products in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
Costco Wholesale operates three types of membership programs. Regular warehouses offer membership in categories ranging from apparel to kitchenware to home appliances. Premiums warehouses are membership clubs with unique features, such as member discounts and free shipping. Costco warehouses offer flexibility in terms of membership. Members may choose to upgrade to Premium or Platinum membership levels; however, at Costco regular warehouses, members remain members regardless of upgrade status. Costco also has a hybrid warehouse/membership model.
Costco warehouses are divided into general stores, member centers, and premium member centers. All members are assigned to a warehouse based on their location. General stores are open to the public and carry a large assortment of merchandise not available elsewhere. Premium membership centers are closed to the public and carry only premium products and services.
A Costco member can order from any of the company’s more than 500 outlets including supermarkets, superstores, supercenters, grocery stores, farmer’s cooperatives, hotels, and other depots. The company maintains a strong distribution network including wholesalers and manufacturers. Members have access to the company’s entire inventory and are responsible for their own inventories. Costco regularly monitors inventories and issues stock alerts and orders to members when stock levels drop. This allows members to purchase items at wholesale prices when they otherwise would be sold in retail stores.
As part of the membership agreement, Costco offers various opportunities to business members. Costco offers a full line of employee benefits including fully comprehensive disability insurance. There are also a number of member services including websites that provide member tips and ways to improve customer service. There are also a number of customer care options including member service lines and a toll-free hotline for customer inquiries.
Costco’s warehouse clubs offer a flexible way to obtain goods and services. A Costco warehouse club member can have access to the main warehouse or regional warehouses and, for a monthly fee, have access to exclusive member warehouses featuring an extensive inventory of products. A Costco warehouse club membership card is required to enter any of the warehouses. There is no need to have a membership to visit the Costco member’s warehouse or meet with a Customer Service representative.
Costco is a well-known and respected wholesaler. Ordering online from their website gives small businesses the ability to market their products to customers all over the country. When a customer places an order online from a Costco business account, the supplier then places the order with the distributor and sends it to the customer. This eliminates the hassle of having to visit a small business owner’s warehouse to make a purchase. Instead, the transaction is made between the online shopper and the supplier.