Walmart-owned Sam’s Club is opening a new store in Dallas, Texas that will double as both a technology lab and a live retail store, enabling both customers and staff to test and make use of the latest developments in retail and payments technology.
The new Sam’s Club Now store “will be a mobile-first shopping experience powered by the new Sam’s Club Now app,” says Jamie Iannone, the retailer’s EVP of membership and technology. “It’s where we will incubate, test and refine technologies to help define the future of retail.”
The store won’t have any cashiers, as all customers will self-checkout on their mobile phones. But it will be fully staffed, with a new kind of technology-enabled customer service assistant who will be equipped to provide shoppers with a high level of service.
“Here’s what we already know – the future of retail is as much about people as it is about technology,” Iannone says.
“Our associates are key to bringing this experience to life, which is why we’re introducing a new role called the Member Host. Think of these associates as the concierge of the club. We’ll empower them with new technology that will allow them to serve members better and faster. We’ve known for a long time our associates make the difference, and that won’t change just because shopping preferences evolve.”
“Since launching our Scan & Go app two years ago, we’ve seen its popularity continue to increase,” Iannone adds. “More than 90% of members who try Scan & Go use it again on their next trip, and regular use is up 40% this year. That’s because it makes shopping easier and members like that.
“So, we’re taking Scan & Go and making it the foundation of the new Sam’s Club Now app, which all members will use to shop here. This will be an interactive experience and they’ll help us test and refine new features before we launch them nationally. There will always be something new to test as we’ll regularly add new functionality to the app.”
Smart shopping lists
As well as Scan & Go self-checkout, the new Sam’s Club Now store will offer customers smart shopping lists that combine machine learning with purchase data to produce auto-filled shopping lists, augmented reality features that “bring items to life in the club by sharing new ways to use them” and provide information on how items are sourced and voice search-based wayfinding and navigation.
Future plans include the use of Bluetooth beacons that work with a members’ smart shopping list to map the best route through the store, electronic shelf edge labels that will instantly update prices and, Iannone says, “down the road, we’ll use the more than 700 cameras in the club to help us manage inventory in new ways and optimize the layout to make shopping effortless.”
“We also have plans to use augmented reality to transform members’ digital carts into pirate ships. Or maybe you’d prefer a rocket?”
“We’re committed to redefining work in all areas of the club. We know our associates love being on the floor helping members. So we’ll design and test new tech-empowered ways of working that give our associates and our members the best Sam’s Club experience,” Iannone concludes.