CWB: Women in Business Spotlight on Rosalind Brewer

Jan 8, 2013

Photo: Ian Wagreich, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

This post first appeared on the Center for Women in Business blog.

If Sam’s Club were its own company, instead of a subsidiary to Wal-Mart, Rosalind Brewer would be a Fortune 50 CEO. Even without that distinction, Brewer runs a $50 billion business. But she has lofty goals, she wants to turn Sam’s Club in a $100 billion business – and she knows exactly how she is going to do it.

Brewer didn’t get her start in business management or sales or even marketing, she started as a chemist. She joined Wal-Mart in 2006, intent on using the analytics and problem-solving skills she learned as a chemist to help her in the business world.

As CEO of Sam’s Club, Brewer has two big targets: Costco and Amazon.com. She wants her company to rival Costco in physical, store presence and rival Amazon in online presence. These are lofty goals to say the least; will she be able to reach them? She plans to start by raising the membership fee for Sam’s Club, then says she will enact the following strategies:

Expansion. Brewer wants to build Sam’s Club in metropolitan areas, and expand beyond the current rural town base of the vast majority of Sam’s Club stores. The company is also opening five times as many stores this year as they normally do annually.

Rebates. Brewer introduced a new membership plan that offers a rebate based on the amount of a purchase. Those who pay more would pay less on their monthly membership.

New Brands. Brewer plans to bring in big brands. In the Wall Street Journal, she boasts about already having Eddie Bauer, Nautica, Lucky Brand Jeans and Apple products in their stores while continuously looking to expand.  

Health and Wellness. Brewer aims to improve the health and wellness offerings of Sam’s Club by offering more organic and higher quality food. She wants her pharmacists to “come out from behind the counter” and engage with customers.

Track Shopping Habits. Brewer says Sam’s Club ecommerce represents less than 1% of total sales but is growing fast. She plans for the company to introduce new data to track shopping habits to improve online offers, in hopes to compete with Amazon.

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