Premier member-based supermarket Sam's Club says it is opening a spinoff store aimed at rivaling Amazon's new concept, Amazon Go.
The new store concept, Sam's Club Now, is set to open soon in Dallas in what the chain is calling "the epicenter" of innovation for Sam's Club.
"There won’t be another club like it," Jamie Iannone, Chief Executive Officer, SamsClub.com and Executive Vice President of Membership and Technology, wrote on the company website. "It will be a mobile-first shopping experience powered by the new Sam’s Club Now app. 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."
The new store concept's "mobile-first" technology, will move human workers into "member host" roles that serve more as concierges rather than manning the check-out aisle, an ongoing source of customer frustration.
Sam's Club is owned by Walmart and operates nearly 600 locations in the U.S. and 200 more in Brazil, China, and Mexico.
The Sam's Club Scan & Go program, which has been used by the retailer for the past two years, will become the focal point of the new store methods.
While Amazon's Go program aims at removing check-out counters altogether, the Sam's Club Go stores will focus more on apps that can help consumers to auto-fill grocery lists, use a navigation system to locate items in the store, as well as offer voice search, augmented reality technology to review items, and set pick up times.
The company says it will also "test" electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices. A number of stores are moving toward electronic tags including Whole Foods Market. Sam's Club Now will also use cameras to help manage inventory and "optimize" store layout.
"We’re putting Sam’s Club on the cutting edge of innovation in the warehouse channel," writes 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!"
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