The new technology lab, called Sam’s Club Now, will be used to incubate, test, and refine technologies while also doubling as a live “mobile-first” retail shopping experience powered by a new Sam’s Club Now app. The new app will be based on the company’s original Scan and Go app – launched two years ago – which allows shoppers to scan items as they shop, pay from their phone, and skip the checkout line in the store.

The new app will be used by all shoppers at Sam’s Club Now, says the company, and will be an interactive experience that will help the company test and refine new features before they are launched nationally. Some of the new features will include the following:

  • Smart shopping lists – combines machine learning and purchase data to auto-fill a member’s shopping list, allowing users to easily add or remove things, and as items are scanned the list will automatically update and move the item to their mobile basket.
  • 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 in the club. Eventually, 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 – will “bring items to life” in the club by sharing new ways to use them, and will integrate stories that highlight interesting features, including how items are sourced.
  • One-hour Club Pickup – using the app, members can now place and pickup an order within the hour.

Apart from the app, the store itself is different. For example, rather than having cashiers, “member hosts” will be available that will act as “concierges” of the club. In addition, the store is a quarter the size of an average club to make operating the clubs easier and more efficient, and making it an ideal space to test new technologies, says the company.

“We’ll test electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, removing the need to print and replace new item price signs,” says Jamie Iannone, Chief Executive Officer, and Executive Vice President of Membership and Technology. “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,” says Iannone. “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!”

The company says it is “very close” to opening the new location.

Sam’s Club

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