The retailer also simplified its membership structure by reducing the number of memberships from three to just two: club and plus.
The free shipping option will be only available to Sam's Club's "Plus" members, which costs $100 annually, which is essentially the same as Amazon Prime's one time price or monthly payment totaling $99 annually.
In order to better position itself against competitors like Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Sam's Club, the bulk retailer owned by Walmart (NYSE: WMT), is now offering free shipping for many items as part of a revamping of its membership programs.
On a call with reporters Tuesday, the company, which is a subsidiary of Walmart, said that it's ramping up its e-commerce operation by opening more distribution centers this year, and that it is aiming to eventually deliver a vast majority of the items it sells online within one or two days.
Plus memberships with Sam's Club already include perks like early shopping hours, cash rewards of $10 for every $500 spent, and pharmacy and optical discounts.
Other initiatives have been geared toward that core customer as well, and Furner believes the efforts are gaining traction after Sam's Club reported a net sales increase of 4.4 percent during the third quarter of the fiscal year that ended January 26, while same-store sales increased for the seventh-straight quarter. But he also believes Sam's must strike a "delicate balance" because it doesn't want to walk away from business members too much.
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Officials of the chain, the membership warehouse store arm of Walmart, said Wednesday they are trying to boost value and convenience with the moves. "Whether it works or not, your guess is as good as mine".
More: See if your Sam's Club is closing.
The company last month shut 63 stores, or about 1/10th of its total, and laid off almost 10,000 workers after a review of profitability. While executives gave few details on the exact locations of those centers, aside from the first slated to open in Memphis, more details will emerge within the next six weeks.
The company is tentatively planning to open other e-commerce facilities in Florida, California, the Chicago area, and the Northeast in the coming months, executives said.