Walmart to Test Retail Tech with Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Walmart is upping the ante with rival Amazon by opening a cashierless “Sam’s Club Now” store in Texas, vying with automated Amazon Go stores. Walmart is experimenting with the concept via its members-only Sam’s Club. According to Jamie Iannone, chief exec of and executive vice president of membership and technology, the store is “very close to opening” and will be the “epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.” In the soon-to-open shop, users will rely on a new Sam’s Club Now app to scan items, and a staff member will scan the entire purchase before the user exits.

The Verge reports that the new venture is “almost like turning the entire store into a continuous self-checkout stand.” Walmart’s future plans for Sam’s Club Now include “smart shopping lists that automatically update as you scan items, intelligent maps that could guide you through the store to find your next item, and even augmented reality.”

Sam’s Club Now will also “add electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices and take advantage of the over 700 cameras in the club to better manage inventory.”

On a company blog, Iannone dubs Sam’s Club Now “a mobile-first shopping experience.” “At its core, Sam’s Club Now will be a technology lab that doubles as a live, retail club,” he said. “It’s where we will incubate, test and refine technologies to help define the future of retail.” He added that the new retail experience is an outgrowth of Scan & Go, an app launched two years ago.

“We’ve seen its popularity continue to increase,” he said. “More than 90 percent of members who try Scan & Go use it again on their next trip, and regular use is up 40 percent this year.”

He also quelled fears that the app will replace human workers. “Our associates are key to bringing this experience to life, which is why we’re introducing a new role called the Member Host,” he said. “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.”

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