Sam’s Club is set to open its Sam’s Club Now store in Dallas, designed as a real-world technology innovation lab. The store will test technologies including mobile-enabled shopping; smart shopping lists that use machine learning and shoppers’ past purchase data; and augmented reality to tell the “stories” behind products.
“At its core, Sam’s Club Now will be a technology lab that doubles as a live, retail club,” said Jamie Iannone, CEO of SamsClub.com and EVP of Membership and Technology, in a blog post. “It’s where we will incubate, test and refine technologies to help define the future of retail.”
The 32,000-square-foot store will be one-quarter the size of an average Sam’s Club location, and will be staffed by concierge-like associates designated as “Member Hosts.” Shoppers will be required to use the retailer’s Scan & Go mobile app that was launched two years ago: “More than 90% of members who try Scan & Go use it again on their next trip, and regular use is up 40% this year,” said Iannone.
The Sam’s Club Now customer experience will include:
• Smart shopping lists: Technology that combines machine learning and purchase data to auto-fill a member’s shopping list. As items are scanned, the list will automatically update and move the item to the member’s mobile basket;
• Enhanced wayfinding and navigation: Using voice search capabilities, a map will pop up on the shopper’s phone to take them to the next item on their list. “Eventually, we’ll be able to use beacon technology and a member’s smart shopping list to map the best route through the club,” said Iannone.
• Augmented reality: Information on new ways to use products and stories about where they are sourced will be available, and Sam’s Club also has plans to transform members’ digital carts into pirate ships or rockets.
• One-Hour Pickup: Members can use the app to place and pick up an order within an hour.
Sam’s Club will introduce new technologies in the store/lab on a regular basis, allowing the retailer to test and refine features before rolling them out to other locations. Future plans include the use of electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, as well as an improved inventory management system using data from 700 cameras placed throughout the store.
The retailer first announced plans to create the Sam’s Club Now incubator store in June 2018. A soft opening with invitations to Dallas-area members could begin as early as next week, according to Tech Crunch, with a grand opening to the public tentatively scheduled for a few weeks later.
Sam’s Club parent Walmart has its own tech incubator, Store No. 8, located near its Bentonville, Ark. headquarters. The Dallas location for Sam’s Club Now was selected because of its proximity to Bentonville and the wealth of tech talent in the area.
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