BJ's, Sam's Upgrade Websites

BJ's Wholesale Club here will introduce a revamped website this summer as part of a goal to increase Internet sales by 40% this fiscal year, and Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division is rolling out an upgraded website in the next few weeks that is designed to create a more customized experience. E-commerce is not our biggest business in the world, Frank Forward, chief financial officer of BJ's,

NEW YORK — BJ's Wholesale Club here will introduce a revamped website this summer as part of a goal to increase Internet sales by 40% this fiscal year, and Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division is rolling out an upgraded website in the next few weeks that is designed to create a more customized experience.

“E-commerce is not our biggest business in the world,” Frank Forward, chief financial officer of BJ's, said at the Barclays Capital Retail and Restaurant Conference here last week. “We are nowhere near the type of penetration or maturation that our competitors are, particularly Costco.”

The refreshed website, to be launched in August, will have additional functionality and provide the retailer with additional ways to market to its members, Forward said. The website is part of a technology initiative that also includes testing self-checkout registers in some locations.

“We've been underinvested [in technology] for a lot of years and we're going to make that up,” Forward said. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to do a lot of good things for the long term.”

Improving technology is one of four strategic initiatives under way at Natick, Mass.-based BJ's this year. The others are enhancing member shopping experience, expansion, and employee training and development.

Member experience will be improved through continued improvements in the quality and presentation of fresh food, Forward said. Perishables are a focus at BJ's because they drive more frequent visits and tend to deliver higher margins than other categories in the store. “We want to be the primary source for members' weekly shopping needs and perishables,” Forward said.

Meanwhile, Sam's Club expects to complete an upgrade to its website in the next few weeks that will make it easier for members to customize their experiences, Brian Cornell, chief executive officer of Sam's, said at the same conference.

“We believe this new website not only improves speed and content, but adds a number of additional membership initiatives and value, making it easier for them to renew, to check their e-Values [a customized discount program], the ability to customize and personalize their specific relationship with Sam's Club around their preferences.”