Sam’s Club transforming shopping experience with tech

   In a recent post, Sam’s Club Interim Chief Product Officer, Todd Garner highlighted how tech was taking the Sam’s Club shopping experience for members to a new level. The club is investing in tech to make shopping at Sam’s club more connected and personal. Todd highlighted that Sam’s Club is not adopting advanced technologies to make the Club a technologically advanced brand, but to transform shopping for the members by addressing pain points and unlocking unparalleled convenience and connection.

Just Scan & Go 

Sam’s Club has relied on member feedback to continuously improve the shopping experience. It is integrating AI, Machine Learning and Robotics in both instore and online experiences in ways that matter. At the center of its digital transformation strategy is the Scan & Go feature, touted as above 90 NPS (Net Promoter Score) regularly (one of the highest in retail). The feature has grown increasingly popular among the Sam’s Club members. Users need to download the Sam’s Club app, scan the barcode of a product or use find an item feature and then pay in app. On their way out, they can show the digital receipt at the exit. Scan & Go checkout can also be used to pay for the cafe, to fuel up fast or to get bulky or out of stock items shipped home. Now, the members can entirely skip the checkout line. Todd notes that the feature has grown increasingly popular among members and over the past three years, its there has been an increase of 50% in the number of members using Scan & Go. Its usage remained the highest in 2023 and according to Sam’s club, it is perhaps the most used app in retail.

However, despite Scan & Go allowing members to pay in app and skip the checkout line, a pain point had remained. Members needed to show the digital receipts at the exit. There could be long queues at the exit for verification especially during the busy season. Recently, Sam’s Club introduced another innovation to relieve the members of long waiting times at the exit. It has unveiled a first of its kind exit technology that relies on computer vision and digital technology to simplify the checking of receipts and the exit process. Currently running pilots across 10 Sam’s Club locations, this technology seamlessly confirms that the members have paid for all the items in their shopping carts without any associate having to check the receipt at the exit. Following the payment by a member via Scan & Go or at a register, a combination of computer vision and digital technology deployed in the exit area of the club captures images of carts and verifies payment for all items in a member’s basket. Sam’s Club plans to rapidly expand this technology to its 600 locations by the year end.

Digital Cake Ordering

Sam’s club has also introduced digital cake ordering after learning from its members that the manual cake ordering was a hassle. It has introduced the feature at 30 locations and plans to roll out at remaining locations too throughout 2024. The new feature makes cake ordering much easier for members since they can customize their cake, add it to cart, schedule their cake pickup and shop for other groceries and supplies in a single transaction.

The Sam’s Club app offers the members all sorts of features including an AI supported ‘did you forget?’ prompt reminding them in case they missed any of their favorite items. It also includes Sam’s cash, which members can earn and redeem on qualifying activities and purchases made inside and outside of Sam’s Club.

Higher convenience for members and associates

In 2022, Sam’s Club introduced AI inventory intelligence. Cloud connected inventory scan towers were fitted on robotic scrubbers that moved around autonomously capturing data in the process.  The Inventory intelligence system generated reports with insights on  verification of pricing accuracy, planogram compliance, product stock levels and product localization. Now, these inventory towers capture around 22 million images daily, gathering valuable inventory data. Associates can keep the products members want in stock and accurately priced. It leaves the associates free to take care of members rather than spend time managing inventory.  

While Sam’s Club is concerned for member convenience, it is also concerned for associate convenience. Associates can now access all types of data they need using a unique suite of apps developed by Sam’s club. The ‘MyClub’ application aggregates relevant and personalized actions, insights and associate needs. Sam’s club continues to add new functionalities to the application that can ease the work pressure on associates. 

Automated inventory actions and reports received from the scanning towers are sent to associates through the ‘Own Your Inventory’ App.  Sam’s club also developed the ‘Fresh’ application to help associates identify the right quantity and specifications for the daily produced fresh items. Associates can also get their queries answered by ‘AskSam’, which is a digital assistant providing quick access to important and relevant information. In 2023, the digital assistant answered more than 700,000 queries. 

Over the recent years, Walmart and Sam’s club have taken several bold steps in terms of digitalization aimed at maximizing member and associate convenience. However, innovation is an ongoing process and would require continuous focus. It is why Sam’s club is opening the Clubhouse this summer which offers dedicated space for innovation and for continuously testing products as well as designing new experiences for members and associates. 

Walmart and its premium clubhouse chain Sam’s Club stand out among the retailers investing in latest technologies to make the shopping experience more convenient for members and associates. While leveraging the power of AI and digital technology will help it maximize customer satisfaction, it will also attract the digitally savvy millennial consumers to the club.