Cashier-Less Sam’s Club Store Paves The Way For The Future Of Shopping
The future of retail is about making customers’ lives easier and better. The modern customer experience is fast and seamless. And there’s a retail race on to get there first.
Forget check-out lines. The future of retail shopping is here.
Think of it as the ultimate self check-out experience. Instead of waiting for someone to ring up your grocery items, customers can now simply pick out what they need, scan an app and walk out of the store.
Amazon started it first with its cashier-less Amazon Go store, but now Sam’s Club (owned by Walmart) is following suit with its Sam’s Club Now store, which will open in Dallas next month.
Sam’s Club Adopts Amazon’s Cashier-Less Concept
It’s a relatively simple concept that requires zero cashiers. Customers use the Sam’s Club Scan & Go app to add products to their receipt as they shop. When they’re done shopping, customers pay through the app with a single click and just walk out of the store. Instead of traditional checkout lines, there are 700 cameras to keep customers honest and monitor inventory.
Voice Activated In-Store Assistant
But that’s not all. Sam’s Club Now is also making major renovations just in time for the busy holiday shopping season. Customers can use the voice command option on the Scan & Go app to get voice directions to any item in the store. That means that instead of wandering aimlessly and wasting time, customers can find exactly what they need. Eventually, the app will be able to create the most efficient route through the store based on a customer’s shopping list. Sam’s Club Now will also feature electronic shelf labels that can be updated for sales or special events.
A Test For Parent Company Walmart
Sam’s Club’s move into the cashier-less world could lead the charge for other stores. Sam’s Club is owned by Walmart, which makes it likely that Walmart could add the technology in some form if the Sam’s Club test goes well.
It’s no surprise that the retail world is changing, especially as brick-and-mortar stores fight to keep up with the constantly innovating e-commerce world.
“We’ll use all available technologies—including computer vision, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, just to name a few—to redefine the retail experience,” said Jamie Iannone, SamsClub.com chief executive.
Amazon could have plans to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores over the next few years. Kroger has been rolling out its Scan, Bag, Go system at 400 stores across the country. The program makes it possible for customers to scan items using an app or hand-held scanner and pay without waiting in line.
Adding technology to the traditional retail space is a great way to improve the overall customer experience. Modern customers want experiences that make their lives easier and better. It’s all about efficiency. Stores that add value by respecting the time of the customer and focus on taking the pain out of current retail experiences are poised for great success. Cashier-less stores also create huge amounts of data, which means stores could continue to refine their connections with customers with personalized recommendations. Sam’s Club is already testing the waters with an AI-powered shopping list based on a customer’s previous purchases.
That’s not to say that there won’t be some growing pains and learning curves involved with the new method of shopping. According to Sam’s Club, 90% of customers who use the Scan & Go app once also use it on their next shopping trip. And just because the transition might be slightly difficult for some customers doesn’t mean that retailers should hold back on forward progress.
Sam’s Club’s goal—like other stores—isn’t to replace humans with technology. Sam’s Club Now will still feature human employees, but there will be fewer and they will take on more of a concierge role. The goal is to still provide the human element of service and personal interactions while offering convenience and efficiency. In the eyes of Sam’s Club and other retailers, it’s the best of both worlds.
The future of shopping could look remarkably different from what we’re used to, and it might be coming sooner than we think. A cashier-less world is less about replacing humans and more about creating a strong customer experience. So fire up your smart phone and head to the store—it’s time to shop without waiting in line.
By Blake Morgan (Forbes)