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Beyond Costco: Exploring the Top 15 Retail Competitors of 2021

Costco: A Membership-Only Wholesale Retailer

Are you looking for an affordable and efficient shopping experience? Look no further than Costco, the membership-only wholesale retailer.

With operations spanning across the United States, Canada, and several other countries worldwide, Costco has become a household name for many. In this article, we will provide an overview of Costco’s background and operations, discuss the membership program, and examine the company’s performance in 2020.

Background and Operations

Costco was founded in 1983 in Seattle, Washington as a membership-only warehouse club. The company has three main segments, including United States Operations, Canadian Operations, and International Operations.

Costco operates over 800 warehouses globally, with over 100 million cardholders. The company’s strategy focuses on maintaining small profit margins through high sales volumes, enabling it to offer low prices.

Membership Program

Costco’s membership program is a vital aspect of its business model. Members pay an annual fee to gain access to its warehouse stores, and they can shop for a wide range of products, from groceries to electronics and clothing.

The company offers two types of membership: Gold Star and Executive. The Gold Star membership costs $60 annually, while the Executive membership costs $120 annually.

The Executive membership offers additional benefits such as annual cashback rewards and exclusive offers. As of 2020, Costco had over 100 million cardholders across the globe, with a 5% increase in membership growth in the United States.

The number of households who hold a Costco membership increased to 53 million, up from 52 million in the previous year.

Financial Performance

Costco’s annual revenue in 2020 reached $174.5 billion, with a net income of $4 billion. The revenue increased by 9.2% compared to the previous year.

The company continues to retain its market share, with an overall market share of 5.7% in the grocery retail segment.

E-commerce Sales

With the rise of e-commerce, Costco has made efforts to focus on digital sales. Costco’s e-commerce sales account for a small portion of its overall revenue.

However, in 2020, e-commerce sales experienced a significant increase, with a growth of 86% in Q4 compared to the previous year. The company’s online grocery sales have also seen a significant increase and have become a necessary component of its business strategy.


In conclusion, Costco has established itself as a leading player in the retail industry, with a unique business model centered around a membership program. The company has continued to maintain its competitive edge by maintaining its low price strategy, resulting in high sales volumes.

As we have seen, Costco’s financial performance and e-commerce sales have continued to grow, positioning the company for future success. So if you’re looking for a hassle-free shopping experience, consider joining Costco’s membership program and enjoy the benefits of affordable pricing and quality products.

Competition Analysis of Costco’s Top 15 Competitors

Costco may be a dominant player in the wholesale retail sector, but it’s not the only game in town. In this article, we will dive into the competition analysis of Costco’s top fifteen competitors across various retail sectors, including Walmart, Amazon, Target, and more.

1. Walmart

Walmart is the largest retailer chain in the world, with an annual revenue of $523 billion as of 2020.

Walmart operates over 11,000 stores globally, including both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels. Walmart’s competitive advantage comes from its size and scale, which allows it to offer low prices and a wide variety of products, including private labels.

2. Amazon

Amazon, an e-commerce giant and one of the most well-known retailers in the world, has a wide range of product categories, including electronics, grocery, and healthcare.

Amazon’s competitive edge lies in its proprietary private labels, such as Amazon Basics, which offer quality products at affordable prices. However, Amazon still has work to do in the grocery sector, where it has been slow to gain traction.

3. The Kroger Company

The Kroger Company is one of the largest food retailers in the United States, with over 2,800 stores in 35 states.

As of 2020, Kroger experienced a surge in e-commerce growth and formed a partnership with Ocado to accelerate its online grocery business. The partnership allows Kroger to leverage Ocado’s technology and logistics expertise to automate its warehouses and improve the online shopping experience for customers.

4. Target

Target is a retail chain that operates over 1,900 stores across the United States, focusing on a broad range of product categories, including groceries, household essentials, and clothing.

Target has a growing omnichannel strategy, including in-store and curbside pickup, and offers a membership program, Target Circle, that gives customers access to exclusive deals and discounts. 5.

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club, a subsidiary of Walmart, offers similar products to Costco and operates on a membership-only basis. Sam’s Club has a significant focus on bulk groceries and has seen an increase in online sales, with services such as curbside pickup and same-day delivery.

6. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA)

Walgreens, a drug store services provider, has operations in over 25 countries.

WBA offers pharmacy services and health products, similar to CVS. However, footfall has dropped in recent years due to consumers’ preference for e-commerce platforms.

7. Home Depot

Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer, with over 2,200 stores in North America.

Home Depot has a growing omnichannel strategy, including online ordering and in-store pickup, and has leveraged its size advantage to maintain a competitive edge in the market. 8.


Tesco is the largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, with operations in several countries worldwide. Tesco’s lack of restriction on the types of products it sells has allowed it to offer a diverse range of products, including home electronics, clothing, and pharmacy services.

9. Aldi

Aldi is a budget-friendly grocery store chain with operations in over 20 countries worldwide.

Aldi’s cost-saving strategy comes from its focus on low prices, limited product selection, and minimalistic store designs. 10.


CVS is a pharmacy services provider that operates over 9,900 retail locations. With a health-focus strategy that includes MinuteClinic and an expanded selection of health products, CVS has successfully differentiated itself from its competitors.

11. Best Buy

Best Buy is a popular consumer electronics retailer with over 1,000 stores in the United States.

Best Buy has experienced growth in its e-commerce sales and has capitalized on the growing popularity of smart home technology. 12.

BJ’s Wholesale Club

BJ’s Wholesale Club is a member-only retailer that operates brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce channels. BJ’s offers a wider product selection than Costco, including groceries, clothing, and electronics.

13. Lowe’s

Lowe’s is a home improvement retailer with over 2,200 stores in North America.

Lowe’s has a significant size advantage, allowing it to offer a wide range of products at a competitive price. 14.


Carrefour is a French supermarket chain with operations in over 30 countries. Its international presence allows Carrefour to offer a diverse product selection and unique product offerings.

15. Kmart

Kmart is a retail store chain that has been in operation since 1962.

Although Kmart operates in the highly competitive retail sector, the store’s end-of-season deals have continued to attract customer attention.


In conclusion, Costco’s top 15 competitors across various retail sectors include Walmart, Amazon, Target, The Kroger Company, and more. Despite the many competitors, Costco has maintained its position as a market leader by focusing on a membership program, low-price strategy, and high sales volume.

To remain competitive, Costco must continue to pursue new strategies to maintain its market-leading position in the retail sector. In this article, we provided an overview of Costco, discussing its background, operations, and membership program.

We then examined the 2020 performance of Costco, looking at its financial performance and e-commerce sales. Finally, we delved into a competition analysis of Costco’s top 15 competitors across various retail sectors.

The importance of this topic lies in understanding the competitive landscape in which Costco operates and how the company can continue to maintain its position in the market. It’s clear that Costco’s low-price strategy, high sales volumes, and membership program have been key to its success, and staying competitive requires constant innovation and adaptation.

As a result, we must appreciate the significance of anticipating and preparing for the changing consumer trends and market demands to remain relevant.

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