The following are prepared remarks for John Furner, President and CEO, Sam’s Club, Remarks at the 2019 Walmart Associate and Shareholders Meeting on June 7, 2019.
John Furner: Hello Walmart! Keri is a technologist based in California. And like many people here, it’s her first Shareholders meeting. Welcome!
Keri Voke: Thank you – this is amazing!
John Furner: Now Keri – there are so many great Walmart associates here today, from all over the world… but there’s one very special group, don’t you think?
Keri Voke: John - are you talking about Sam’s Club?
John Furner: Our associates ARE special – and that’s why we are making so much progress right now: improving our product offering; driving sales and traffic; and growing our member base. Let me say a big thank you to the team!
I wanted Keri to help me talk about innovation. Innovation is happening all over the company, including – yes – at Sam’s Club.
Keri – you work on our Product Management team. That's not "product" like merchandise - it's a technology product. Tell us what you and your team do.
Keri Voke: Here’s what we do. We figure out how technology can help our clubs. We're always listening to our members and our associates, looking for ways we can reduce friction. From there, we go to work finding the best solution. One example of this is our Scan & Go technology, which lets a member completely skip the checkout line.
John Furner: You can see a lot of the work Keri and her fellow associates are doing at our new “Sam’s Club Now” location in the Lower Greenville neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. Keri - tell us about Sam’s Club Now.
Keri Voke: This club is a living testbed for our company’s innovations. We’re constantly testing new features that we think will have a big impact for our chain – whether its adding barcode-less scanning to Scan & Go, or new Augmented Reality concepts that bring our products to life. Sam’s Club Now is about figuring out the future of retail.
John Furner: The club is a great story, but the story of how it got off the ground is even better. We set an aggressive target to bring Sam’s Club Now to life – 6 months from conception to grand opening.
Keri Voke: That is correct.
John Furner: Keri and a few of her colleagues approached this challenge in a pretty interesting way. They rented a house in the Lower Greenville neighborhood, walking distance from the club.
They lived and worked out of that house – they coded in the living room, and they chased the sun with late-nights calls to colleagues on the other side of the world.
So with Keri is the rest of the Lower Greenville crew – Keith, Robert, and Michael. I love how you said you worked fast, startup style, and you were able to do that inside of a large company. I know you are proud of the club – we’re proud of you. Thank you!
There are so many associates like Keri, Keith, Michael, and Robert helping us innovate:
This is Pooja Tejura – an engineer in our San Bruno office. She helped redesign the cart and checkout pages on SamsClub.com – making the process four times faster and contributing to the 28 percent eCommerce growth we've seen this year.
These engineers in Bangalore, India built a new system that allows us to deliver eCommerce orders from both fulfillment centers AND clubs. The system has cut a whole day out of the supply chain.
We’ve always said that the best ideas come from our associates, and last year our team had a really good one. The team noticed that whenever they wanted to know something in their everyday lives – like directions or a sports score - they could just ask their phones.
They thought we should be able to work the same way in our clubs. Craig Robinson leads our Bots and Search team. Craig and a group of technologists, operators, and engineers went to work on creating a mobile App an associate could simply speak to in order to get information.
We call it “Ask Sam.” You can speak into the App and ask anything about the club – just like you would your own phone.
Ask Sam is now LIVE at all our clubs, and it's already answered 1.5 million questions – all from associates who work at Sam's Club.
Innovation like that doesn’t just happen. It takes people on different teams – on different continents – all working together, chasing the sun, and staying focused on serving the end users of their products.
Those end users are our associates and our members. When we innovate, together we’re able to make life easier, and that's when we know it’s all worth it.