The retail industry has been battling changes in the way consumers shop — evidenced by multiple store closures announced just since Jan. 1 — but Topeka’s Sam’s Club is pushing back against those trends.
The club recently won multiple awards, including ranking in the top five of clubs nationwide and being named Regional Club of the Year out of 125 clubs.
Sam’s Club manager Bob Catlin said the top five ranking takes into account multiple factors, including revenue, customer service, charitable contributions in the community and employee satisfaction. The Topeka club has 135 employees that serve 42,000 members in the capital city and surrounding area, he said.
“We’re here to celebrate our achievements,” he told a group gathered Monday morning for the award announcements. “How did we get there? The team behind me. We all work together as one team.”
Catlin said the cohesiveness of the Topeka team is why the store has been so successful, and it’s even more important in an industry of varying schedules where people work different shifts.
“We all do it together. We all have different roles. I’m no better than anybody else, we just all have different responsibilities,” he said.
Staying competitive in a retail world that seems determine to smash traditional ways of operating means adjustment. For Catlin, the key has been moving quickly and thoroughly into the digital world. Competing with companies like Amazon means serving customers through a variety of arenas.
A Sam’s app called Scan &Go, for instance, lets customers scan the barcodes on their items and check out from the app. Then they head out the door, without ever going through the check-out lines, and pick up their order at the curb.
The future will bring more ways that Sam’s “makes it easier for the members to shop,” Catlin said.
“Retail is a very tough industry. It seems as though about every week we read a headline about some retailer somewhere that’s struggling because the American consumer’s habits are changing,” said Curtis Sneden, executive vice president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “We are delighted that WalMart Corp. and Sam’s Club seem to have developed a winning formula.”
Mayor Larry Wolgast said he, too, enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate good news in Topeka’s retail environment.
“When you get to be one of the top five in the nation, that is really significant,” he said.