Costco Case Study

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What is Costco’s business model? Is the company’s business model appealing? Why or why not? The centerpiece of their business model involved generating high sales volumes and rapid inventory turnover by offering club members low prices on a limited selection of name brand and private label products. The Club members pay an annual fee, which was a very important aspect of their business model. These fees provided enough revenue to increase the company’s overall profit. Costco was also able to sell and receive cash for their inventory before it had to pay many of its merchandise vendors; even when vendors’ payments were made just in time for vendors to take advantage of early payment discounts. High sales volumes and rapid inventory turnover allowed the company to finance a large percentage of its merchandise inventory through payment terms provided by vendors rather than by maintaining large working capital to ensure timely payments of suppliers. Yes, the company’s business model is appealing because the company’s increased inventory turnover and low operating costs allowed it to maintain a profit, despite their significantly lower gross margins compared to the industry (traditional wholesalers, mass merchandisers, supermarkets and supercenters). What are the chief elements of Costco’s strategy? How good is the strategy? The chief elements are pricing, product selection, maintaining low operating costs and expansion. Pricing/Product Selection-The company philosophy was to provide high end quality product and/or services to club members but maintain low prices. Stores carry approximately 3,600 items, whereas, 85% is name brand and 15% Kirkland brands. These items range from perishables (food/drinks) to nonperishable household items. Costco also offers several services such as: one-hour photo, gasoline, pharmacy, optical, hearing aids, and travel services.

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