Walmart-owned member’s-only retailer, Sam’s Club, is set to open a new retail concept where it will be trialling innovative technologies including mandatory mobile checkout and AR-enabled packaging.
The space, which will be based in Dallas, Texas, will be the retailer’s innovation epicenter and act as part technology lab, part store.
The retailer’s mobile app will act as the central hub for the experience, with existing Scan & Go technology acting as the only way to shop the space, called Sam’s Club Now. Additional technologies will then be added and refined gradually.
Customers using Scan & Go can scan items to add them to the app’s shopping cart and upon leaving the store, a member of staff will scan for a QR code to complete the purchase.
They can also scan selected packaging to bring up more information on particular items, such as provenance, via augmented reality.
Navigating the store will also become more seamless, as customers can search via voice for a particular item, and a map will lead them to the correct shopfloor location. The retailer forecasts that in the future this will be updated with beacon technology, which will allow members to receive a personalized map upon entering the store that will show them an optimized route for their shopping journey.
Additional features include a one-hour pickup of items ordered via the app, as well as electronic shelf labels that instantly update prices. In the future, the store also aims to optimize inventory and layout of shopping space by integrating 700 cameras in the club.
An integral part of the new retail format, however, will be its focus on retail staff. Associates are now known as Member Hosts, which is meant to better describe their new focus on improving customer service. “Eliminating friction doesn’t mean replacing exceptional member service with a digital experience,” said John Furner, Sam’s Club president and CEO. “We know our members expect both.”
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