Why Costco is Rocking Retail

 Costco gets it!


Costco opening scene

Is this the scene outside your business 15 minutes before you open your doors? Are they lining up to get the opportunity to buy from you?  The scene above is from Costco store in my area on a Thursday morning, 15 minutes before they open.  As I stood in this group, I watched in jealous amazement as the crowd continued to grow to over 50 before the gate finally lifted to open.

Regardless of the type of business, don’t we all hope to achieve this type of customer interest? Even though there are still many challenges in our economy, some businesses are thriving and growing at a healthy pace. What is it that Costco is doing that causes customers to show up in numbers, enthusiastically spending ‘tough to come by’ dollars and do so on a regular basis?

Here are my reasons for standing in  line:

  1. Costco is consistent
  2. Costco is a resource
  3. Costco is fair
  4. Costco is responsive
  5. Costco listens
  6. Costco is clean
  7. Costco is efficient
  8. Costco is easy to do business with
  9. Costco is predictable
  10. Costco is innovative
  11. Costco fosters a feeling of belonging
  12. Costco provides value
  13. Costco is involved in my community
  14. Costco rewards loyalty

Can you imitate and adapt some of these traits for your business? How many?

Just go down that list and answer each question through your customers eyes. Are you easy to do business with? Is your customer service predictable? Do you really listen to your customers requests?

Now might be a great time to get everyone that can impact the response to these traits and talk about them as a team. Divide the list up and have everyone be accountable to deliver  results.

Why do you shop at Costco? What are some of additional points that I missed?


Nate Towne
Nate Towne

Exclusive, you missed exclusive! While it may sound silly, one of the main reasons I shop at CostCo is because they carry brands/items not available anywhere else. I crave the Morningstar Spicy Black Bean Burgers that can only be found at CostCo - as well as the Disney brand animal crackers...


Costco does not use self checkout systems as the items are bulk. The Costco model actually means that each checkout has two checkout operaters, thats right two! You dont get that at Coles or Woolies. If you read the article, each store employs around 350 people. If you get to Sydney, Dockland or Canberra, take a look at a Costco store, its amazing. Costco doesnt enter into any Joint ventures, its all owned or leased to local landowners, so they pay their way in rates, taxes and other local council fees. Parking is free and with 700 (yes seven hundred) car spaces you will NEVER be made to pay for parking! Wait and see how good it is. Also, local companies benefit as they can take advantage of the cheaper wholesale prices that they can then on sell.

Christina R
Christina R

Miles Austin

Thank you for your reply.  To answer your Q, I don't wait outside of a certain store before they open, unless I'm waiting for a bank to open, which doesn't count for retail! 

The only time in my life when I waited outside of a retail store was when I was a stay-at-home-mother of an infant.  My daughter woke up extremely early, I wanted to get out of the house with her, and would end up waiting in Big Lots' parking lot before they opened.  The reason I went to Big Lots in particular was because their store opened at least 2 hours before others (in the days before 24-hour stores).  This does not apply to me now, but I suppose people in my previous mindset & situation are still a good part of the buying public today.

I wanted to ask if you meant that the reason you were outside of Costco is because you happened to be in the area of the store and stopped over a tad early, almost accidentally?  If so, why do you suppose there are shoppers out there almost daily, if there are not 'early bird specials'?  Thank you for sharing your expertise!


This is great, but I'd like to know HOW they were able to achieve these attributes?

milesaustin moderator

@OrderMotion Ahhh, that is the billion dollar question and I suspect that your team might have some insight into the answers. Come on, spill the beans!

John Treck
John Treck

I think a major reason of how how to achieve these attributes is simply through always be solving the core problems in your business. When core problems (like not properly funcitoning products) are removed, all the side effects (such as angry customers) will disappear along with them.

This can make all the difference for your business.

Latest blog post: auto invoeren

Christina R
Christina R like.author.displayName 1 Like

What I am still wondering is - Why the line before the store opens?  It would be interesting and helpful to know why shoppers are waiting outside.

Nate Towne
Nate Towne

@Christina R Here's my guess - they have very limited hours. They close at 6PM on weekends - crazy! Plus this is one store you want to avoid at peak hours, it can get maddening when all the samples come out, people just kind of hang out at the end of the aisles and they're really annoying to get around. But if you're CostCo, you want people to be hanging out sampling your product so I can't really blame 'em.

milesaustin moderator

@Christina R Good question, wish I would have asked. I can answer for myself by saying that even though other stores were open by that time, I prefer to buy from Costco for most of the reasons listed in the post above. There were no special sales or holiday coming up, just a normal summer weekday. I drive by this location several times a month, and there is always a group outside before opening.

Do you stand in line before opening anywhere? If you do, why do you do it?


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