Executive Briefings

Costco Finally Realizes It Needs to Get in the E-Commerce Game

It's a curiosity of how the internet works that a shopper using a search engine to find a flat-screen TV probably will not turn up Costco Wholesale, a major television vendor and the country's largest retailer after Walmart.

Costco.com is not built to attract online hits, but it does decent business - about $2bn in sales a year. It does so by offering everything from caskets to an 18.88-carat diamond, while attracting customers even more affluent than the average shopper at its warehouses.

Now the chain, based in Issaquah, Wash., less than 20 miles from the offices of online Bigfoot Amazon.com Inc., wants to up its game online, and experts say it's about time.

"The stakes are very high," said Vladimir Zwass, a computer-science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, N.J., and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce. "The growth of e-tail is far sharper than the growth of retail in general, and sooner or later those companies will simply eat Costco's lunch."

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Costco.com is not built to attract online hits, but it does decent business - about $2bn in sales a year. It does so by offering everything from caskets to an 18.88-carat diamond, while attracting customers even more affluent than the average shopper at its warehouses.

Now the chain, based in Issaquah, Wash., less than 20 miles from the offices of online Bigfoot Amazon.com Inc., wants to up its game online, and experts say it's about time.

"The stakes are very high," said Vladimir Zwass, a computer-science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, N.J., and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Electronic Commerce. "The growth of e-tail is far sharper than the growth of retail in general, and sooner or later those companies will simply eat Costco's lunch."

Read Full Article