“There won’t be another club like it. It will be a mobile-first shopping experience powered by the new Sam’s Club Now app,” Iannone said. “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.”
Sam’s Club Now is a key element of the innovation strategy unveiled in June, Iannone said. “And here’s what we already know — the future of retail is as much about people as it is about technology.”
Central to the Sam’s Club Now experience is the Scan & Go app that Iannone said has grown in popularity since it was unveiled two years ago. “More than 90% of members who try Scan & Go use it again on their next trip, and regular use is up 40% this year. That’s because it makes shopping easier, and members like that,” he said.
“So we’re taking Scan & Go and making it the foundation of the new Sam’s Club Now app, which all members will use to shop here. This will be an interactive experience and they’ll help us test and refine new features before we launch them nationally,” Iannone said.
Sam’s Club expects to continually experiment with the app in order to be able to add new functionality, said Iannone, who used his blog post to highlight features already incorporated into the app, including:
- Smart shopping lists: Sam’s Club has developed “intuitive technology” that combines machine learning and purchase data to auto-fill a member’s shopping list. Shoppers can easily add or remove things, and as items are scanned the list will automatically update and move the item to the shopper’s mobile basket.
- Navigation: Shoppers can use the app’s voice-search capabilities in combination with navigation features to activate a pop-up map that guides members to what they want. Eventually, Sam’s Club will incorporate beacon technology and a member’s smart shopping list to map the best route through the club.
- Augmented reality: Club items can be brought to life through the sharing of new ways to use them. Sam’s Club will work to integrate stories that highlight cool features, such as details about how an item is sourced.
- One-hour pickup:Merchandise ordered via the app can be ready for in-club pickup within 60 minutes.
“The Sam’s Club technology team, including technologists from our Innovation Center in Dallas, are leading this work for us,” Iannone said in his blog post. “But innovation in Sam’s Club Now doesn’t stop with the app. At just 32,000 square feet, the club is a quarter the size of an average club. This makes it an ideal space to test new technologies that will make operating the clubs easier and more efficient.
“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 committed to redefining work in all areas of the club. We know our associates love being on the floor helping members. So we’ll design and test new tech-empowered ways of working that give our associates and our members the best Sam’s Club experience.
“We’re putting Sam’s Club on the cutting edge of innovation in the warehouse channel,” Iannone said. “Using all available technologies — including computer vision, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, just to name a few — we will redefine the retail experience today and into the future.”