For the millions of small businesses that already use their Sam's Club membership to stock up on everything from bulk ketchup to office supplies, the wholesale club is about to put a new product on offer: small business loans of up to $350,000.
The chain, a subsidiary of Walmart, will operate a lending platform, with loan marketplace Lending Club offering loans between $5,000 and $350,000 and Smart Biz offering loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Sam's Club members will get a 20% discount on fees related to the loans.
The new lending service will sit alongside the wholesaler's growing line of small business services, which it began rolling out in 2014. Sam's Club members can already purchase health insurance through Aetna, credit card processing hardware and services from First Data, online marketing services from web.com, accounting and tax services from 1-800 Accountant, and legal services from Legal Zoom.
The new services "are not aimed primarily at generating revenue for Sam's Club," said CEO Rosalind Brewer on a call with reporters. "We're focused on increasing the value of Sam's Club membership."
With more than 47 million members, plenty of them small businesses, Sam's Club's scale is a tempting proposition for service providers looking to get their products in front of more customers. Sam's Club's $58 billion in revenue makes up about 12% of Wal-Mart's total revenues, and if broken out on its own, would make the chain America's eighth-largest retailer, just below CVS but above Amazon.
"We wanted the new services to be simple, affordable and reliable and to offer exclusive savings our members can't find anywhere else," Brewer said. "We leveraged our scale to establish these exclusive savings from our sheer size."
Overall, Sam's Club said members could save up to $2,300 a year by buying services through the retailer, with discounts for the services ranging from about 20% to 25%. The chain's foray into services is an echo of new offerings from its parent company; WalMart launched a service this year allowing customers to collect their tax returns in cash at its stores, and last year introduced a low-cost money transfer service.