Leading Where It Matters Most: Transforming the Shopping Experience

Feb. 28, 2024

The image shows a collage of five images, highlighting new features in Sam's Club.

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In the ever-changing, fast-paced, and competitive world of retail, there are a lot of ways to be a leader – most club locations, largest revenue, highest traffic. At Sam’s Club, our primary focus is on creating the best shopping experience possible for our members. I’m proud to work for the leader in convenience and the leader in technology deployment improving the lives of members and associates.

Connected and personal. Relevant items with great value. Convenient and delightful. Less waiting. When we listen to our members, they tell us what kind of shopping experiences keep them coming back to Sam’s Club. They have a deep emotional connection to our business, and we thrive when we listen to members, place their needs front and center and elevate the shopping experience at Sam’s Club.

I spend my days with product developers, data scientists, programmers and engineers. These are some of the brightest minds in technology, and they’re helping us integrate robotics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) into our in-club and online experiences in transformative ways. We are not, however, deploying tech for tech’s sake. We’re constantly thinking about member pain points, and it’s all about focusing technology on Member needs and unlocking unparalleled convenience and connection:

The image shows a customer walking with a cart through Sam's Club new technology, Scan & Go,.

1. No More Waiting in Line: We know members want the most convenient shopping experience – they want to get what they need and then just go. Two areas of the club have been on the minds of members: the line at checkout and the line at the club exit. Scan & Go™ created an early leadership position at checkout, and we’ve again raised the bar on convenience by helping shoppers bypass the line at exit.

Since 2016, Sam’s Club members have been using Scan & Go to bring the best of digital directly into the aisles to make everything easier. The ability to shop and pay in a mobile app transformed the member experience, enabling Sam’s Club shoppers to choose items, complete payment and skip the checkout line entirely. In the past three years, Scan & Go adoption has surged by 50%, with one in three members now a regular user – and we are not done yet. We use member feedback to improve the platform, incorporating upgrades like EBT SNAP acceptance, multi-transactions, Scan & Go Fuel, Scan & Go Café and personalized suggestions. With an NPS regularly over 90, the convenience of Scan & Go is resonating with members. Scan & Go usage reached record highs last year, and we believe it’s the most-used app inside of a store or restaurant in the country.

Now, Sam’s Club is unveiling another pioneering technological advance in the member experience. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month, Sam's Club unveiled a first-of-its-kind exit technology that uses computer vision and digital technology to make the verification of receipts and exit process a breeze. Shopping cart images are captured by cameras and, using A.I. in the background, payments are seamlessly verified – eliminating the wait at the exit while also enabling member specialists to engage with members. Right now, this technology is being piloted in 10 locations, with plans to roll out to all clubs by the end of the year, making us the first retailer to implement this type of technology at this scale. 

Image shows a close up of a person holding a mobile phone. The phone screen shows a menu of cakes.

2. No Waiting, But I Want My Cake Too! When members told us that the manual process for ordering cakes was a hassle, we took note. In response, we introduced digital cake ordering to 30 of our Sam’s Club locations, with plans to roll out to all clubs throughout 2024. Now members can customize their cake, add to cart, schedule their cake pickup and shop for other groceries and supplies in a single transaction. Cake ordering has never been easier, and as members use this new tool, we’ll continue refining the experience based on their feedback.

We’re proud of the digital relationship we have with our members. Through our app, we offer all sorts of features from an A.I.-powered “Did You Forget” prompt that helps a member not forget their favorite items, to Sam’s Cash, which helps them realize the amazing value they receive from a Sam’s Club membership.

3. Tech Makes Everything Easier for Club Associates, Too! When Sam’s Club introduced A.I. for Inventory Intelligence in 2022, it was the first commercial application of inventory scanning technology anywhere in the world. Today, the inventory scanning towers – retrofitted on top of autonomous floor scrubbers – capture 22 million images daily, gathering valuable inventory data. This innovation helps associates keep the products members love in stock and accurately priced, giving associates more time to focus on what they love most: taking care of members.

The image shows a close up of a person holding a device.

Convenience is great for members, but it also benefits associates. We’ve developed a suite of unique apps that put access to millions of pieces of data into the hands of in-club associates. The MyClub application aggregates relevant and personalized actions, insights and associate needs, and we are continuing to build out new functionality simplifying the associate work experience. The Own Your Inventory, application receives automated inventory actions and reports from the scanning tower delivered to associates digitally, and the Fresh application was designed specifically to help associates identify the right quantity and specifications for all of our fresh items that are produced daily. There’s also Ask Sam, a digital assistant that provides associates with quick access to information and assists members with queries. Last year alone, on average, more than 700,000 questions were answered each week using the application.

For us, it's all about our commitment to leading in convenience. Each application is designed to ensure every associate has access to the tools they need, right when they need them. With ongoing innovations and pilots, we are continuing to invest in the digital tools and insights available to our associates.

The image shows a rendering of Clubhouse, a new 37,000-square foot design thinking studio, set to open Summer of 2024.

That’s just the beginning. We’re excited about Clubhouse, our new 37,000-square-foot design thinking studio, set to open this summer. Once completed, the studio will serve as an innovation engine, where we’ll continue to test products and design new, enhanced experiences for members and associates.

I’m proud that Sam’s Club stands out among retailers deploying the latest technologies making members’ and associates’ lives more convenient and meaningful. When you take the art of retailing and you keep it people-led and tech powered – that’s where the magic happens. It's powerful when you get the balance right.

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