Walmart-owned Sam’s Club is close to opening its “epicenter of innovation,” a new club in Dallas, TX, dubbed Sam’s Club Now. The test lab store will be a mobile-first shopping experience powered by the new Sam’s Club Now app.
Sam’s Club Now will be a technology lab that doubles as a brick and mortar store, where the retailer will incubate, test and refine retail technologies. The club is a quarter the size of an average club, just 32,000 square feet. The Sam’s Club Technology team, including technologists from the Innovation Center in Dallas, are leading this retail technology work.
Inside the store, associates in a new role called “member host” will be empowered with new technology to serve shoppers more efficiently and engagingly. The retailer will test electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, removing the need to print and replace new item price signs. In the future, Sam’s Club plans to use the more than 700 cameras in the club to help the retailer manage inventory in new ways and optimize the store’s layout.
“This will be an interactive experience and they’ll help us test and refine new features before we launch them nationally,” writes Jamie Iannone, CEO, SamsClub.com and EVP of Membership and Technology, in a blog post. “There will always be something new to test as we’ll regularly add new functionality to the app.”
Scan & Go is the foundation of the new Sam’s Club Now app, which all members will have to use to shop in the Sam’s Club Now store. According to Sam’s Club, more than 90% of members who try the retailer’s Scan & Go mobile app, which launched two years ago, use it again on their next trip, and regular use is up 40% this year.
The new Sam’s Club Now app includes smart shopping lists. The retailer developed intuitive technology that combines machine learning and purchase data to auto-fill users’ shopping lists. The shopper can easily add or remove things, and as items are scanned the list will automatically update and move the item to their mobile basket.
Using the app, club members can already place and pickup an order within the hour. Additionally, using voice search capabilities combined with new wayfinding and navigation features, a map will pop up and take customers to what they are looking for in the store. Eventually, beacon technology and a member’s smart shopping list will help map the best route through the club.
Sam’s club is also working on augmented reality (AR) technology to bring items to life in the club store. The tech will share information on new ways to use the items and integrate stories that highlight interesting features, including how items are sourced.
“We’re putting Sam’s Club on the cutting edge of innovation in the warehouse channel,” writes Iannone. “Using all available technologies – including computer vision, AR, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, just to name a few – we will redefine the retail experience today and into the future.”