In June, Sam’s Club revealed plans to open a new kind of club store in Dallas, Texas. Now, the retailer says it is “very close” to opening the new location, called Sam’s Club Now, that will serve as the “epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.”
“There won’t be another club like it,” wrote Jamie Iannone, CEO of SamsClub.com and EVP of membership and technology, on the company’s website. “It will be a mobile-first shopping experience powered by the new Sam’s Club Now app. At its core, Sam’s Club Now will be a technology lab that doubles as a live, retail club. It’s where we will incubate, test and refine technologies to help define the future of retail.”
That future is defined as much by people as technology, Iannone writes. In recognition of that, Sam’s Club is introducing a new role called the Member Host. These hosts will act as “the concierge of the club,” equipped with new technology that will allow them to serve members better and faster.
Customers also will have access to more technology. Sam’s Club is rolling out a new Sam’s Club Now app, centered around the retailer’s Scan & Go technology, that all members will use to shop the new store.
“This will be an interactive experience and they’ll help us test and refine new features before we launch them nationally,” wrote Iannone. “There will always be something new to test as we’ll regularly add new functionality to the app.”
Other new features Sam’s Club will debut with the new store include:
- Smart shopping lists: Machine learning and purchase data combine to auto-fill members’ shopping lists. They can add or remove items, and as products are scanned the list will update automatically and move the item to their mobile baskets.
- Wayfinding and navigation: Using voice search capabilities combined with new wayfinding and navigation features, a map will pop up and take members right to what they need. Eventually, Sam’s Club says it will be able to use beacon technology and a member’s smart shopping list to map the best route through the club.
- Augmented reality: Sam’s Club says it will “bring items to life” in the store by sharing new ways to use them, and will work to integrate stories that highlight features like how items are sourced.
- One-hour pickup: Using the app, members can place and pickup an order within the hour.
At just 32,000 s.f., Sam’s Club Now is a quarter the size of an average club, making it “an ideal space to test new technologies that will make operating the clubs easier and more efficient,” says Iannone. “We’ll test electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, removing the need to print and replace new item price signs. And 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’re putting Sam’s Club on the cutting edge of innovation in the warehouse channel. Using all available technologies—including computer vision, AR, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, just to name a few—we will redefine the retail experience today and into the future.”