Mobile self-checkout continues to gain traction among big U.S. retailers. This time, it’s Sam’s Club experimenting with a new mobile app designed for a smaller club store concept, as the following CNBC article reports.
Sam’s Club is opening a location in Dallas that will allow customers to scan and pay for their groceries with an app — without a cashier or standing in the checkout line.
It comes at a time when many retailers, including Sam’s Club owner, Walmart, Target, Kroger and Macy’s, are playing with technology in stores to appeal to customers, cut costs and grow sales. The opening also comes in a market ripe with competition in the grocery industry — Whole Foods is headquartered in Texas and H-E-B is popular there.
At the Dallas location, shoppers will be introduced to a new “Sam’s Club Now” app that builds on its existing “Shop and Go” app.
At first, the so-called lab will be available only for a small number of people, according to the company. A wider rollout is to follow. It’s a similar strategy Amazon used when it introduced its cashierless Amazon Go store in Seattle. First, it was only open to Amazon’s employees.
At 32,000 square feet, Sam’s Club said the new store will be about a quarter of the size of its traditional store, with a focus on food — produce, meat and alcohol.
Sam’s Club is no stranger to mobile order and pay as its current Scan & Go mobile app is operational in all its club stores. The new mobile app is in testing phase, and has some different features compared to Scan & Go. Sam’s is taking an integrated approach by providing shoppers with prompts based on buying patterns. The technology push here is that Sam’s is loading up with store cameras and machine learning to understand customer shopping habits as well as handle store inventory management. This is not the same as the Amazon Go store where cameras and sensors are used to charge the customer’s payment card on file. At Sam’s Club, the customer will still have to scan each product using the app and then have an exit monitor check the digital receipt. In any case, this pilot bears close watching as there seems to be a lot of potential to enhance the customer in-store experience as well as to help with store inventory control.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Director, Merchant Services at Mercator Advisory Group