How Sam’s Club Is Transforming the Customer Experience

Tech-forward innovation is helping the retailer ease pain points, share new offerings
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Sam's Club cake ordering
A noted pain point among customers, Sam's Club is streamlining its online cake-ordering process.

Walmart-owned Sam’s Club has taken several steps over the past year to enhance its customer experience in-store and online, and for both its shoppers and associates. The retailer is embracing technology applications in its quest to make shopping and working even easier, including robotics, computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Sam’s Club is striving to make its experience connected, personal, convenient and delightful by offering relevant items with great value and less waiting, shared Todd Garner, interim chief product officer, in a company blog post. This includes the company’s Scan & Go technology, in place since 2016, as well as its recently announced, first-of-its-kind exit technology that uses computer vision and digital technology to make the verification of receipts and exit process quicker and more seamless. 

According to Garner, shopping cart images are captured by cameras and payments are verified using AI, thus 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,” Garner wrote.

Additionally, Sam’s Club has responded to customers who shared that the manual process for ordering cakes was a hassle by introducing digital cake ordering to 30 of its locations, with plans to roll out to all clubs throughout the year. The new functionality allows members to customize their cake, add it to their cart, schedule their pickup and also shop for other groceries and supplies in a single transaction. 

On the associate side, Sam’s Club introduced AI geared toward inventory intelligence in 2022, marking the first commercial application of the technology anywhere in the world. Today, the inventory scanning towers, which have been retrofitted on top of autonomous floor scrubbers, capture 22 million images daily, providing 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,” Garner wrote.

The retailer is also helping associates with a suite of apps, including the MyClub application, which aggregates relevant and personalized actions, insights and associate needs. Other employee-facing apps offer automated inventory actions and reports; help with identifying the right quantity and specifications for all house-produced fresh items; and quick access to store-based information. 

To further its tech transformation, Sam’s Club also has plans to open Clubhouse this summer, its new 37,000-square-foot design thinking studio that will serve as an innovation engine 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,” wrote Garner. “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.”

Sam’s Club, a division of Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Inc., operates nearly 600 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Walmart operates more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 20 countries. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Sam’s Club is No. 8. PG also named Walmart one of its Retailers of the Century.

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