Since a few years now Costco has been focused on expanding both inside the U.S. and overseas. Between 2010 and current date the big box retailer opened hundreds of warehouses in America and abroad.
Costco is the second largest retailer in the world according to the National Retail Federation. It stands alongside Walmart, Kroger, Tesco (in Britain) and Carrefour (in France) as one of the fastest-growing companies.
Established in 1983, Costco nowadays operates more than 480 warehouses at home and more than 220 abroad and plans to expand even more in the coming years at a pace competing with the retailer’s growth in sales.
Steady growth and steady expansion
Over the past five years, Costco has maintained an annual growth rate of 7.2 percent despite fierce competition from other merchandisers. The company recognizes Target, Amazon, and Walmart as significant rivals in the general merchandise category and retailers such as Best Buy and Home Depot as strong competitors in select categories.
Nevertheless, Costco’s steady growth and expansion had set the company as one of the most influential in the retail world, and indeed, Costco is known as the first company to collect $3 billion from sales in less than six years. And Costco continues to hold its ground. Where other retailers have faltered, Costco succeeded.
The retail giant has opened in Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Mexico, now also focusing on several countries in Europe. Since 2013 – the year it commenced expansion on a global scale, Costco has opened over 200 international warehouses of which:
- 94 in nine provinces across Canada;
- 8 in Australia;
- 25 in Japan;
- 13 in Korea;
- 13 in Taiwan;
- 36 in 18 states across Mexico;
- 2 in Spain;
- 28 in the United Kingdom.
Costco also operates one location in Iceland as of May 2017.
International Costco stores and what they offer
Similar to the U.S. stores, Costco international warehouses require membership, which can be utilized in any location in the world, thus ensuring easy shopping possibilities for customers who are traveling or moving abroad and the same advantages as at home.
Typically the size of Costco warehouses all over the world is on average 143,800 square feet, and international Costco stores carry some of the same brands as stores in the U.S., both high-end and private label.
The assortment of products, however, tends to reflect local communities. For example, in Asian countries, customers will find items such as bulgogi beef unavailable in American stores.
Also, more than half of all the available merchandise is sourced locally based on the specific of the country.
Costco says that future expansion in the U.S. will account for only 40 percent of the plan and that the main focus remains international expansion. Warehouse clubs have integrated in the international retail market a lot less compared to the U.S., so there is a strong potential for Costco to acquire market share overseas. Thus it is moving strategically in un-entered markets, and the result is in the numbers.
Within just a few months since launching stores Costco sees tens of thousands of members and the membership gets stronger every month, which in turn increases sales.
Costco’s strong presence in the States and now winning the trust of customers worldwide is surely due to the quality and the value the retailer offers, and to the efforts it puts into bringing tailored offerings to people, demonstrating that big-box stores can offer pleasant shopping experiences and provide shoppers with reasons to return consistently.