A one-of-a-kind, no checkout Sam's Club is about to open on Lower Greenville in Dallashttps://www.dallasnews.com/business/ret ... lle-dallas
While Amazon Go's cashierless store has grabbed all the attention, a Sam's Club innovation lab in downtown Dallas has created a warehouse club without checkouts and with a new name.
Sam's Club Now is a technology incubator warehouse that will open in November on Lower Greenville in a remodeled building that used to house a Walmart Neighborhood Market. A few miles away, Sam's innovation lab opened this summer with more than 100 technology engineers in a West End office building.
The store will open with 700 cameras that work with the warehouse club's Scan & Go app. Shoppers will be able to locate items through the app using voice search capabilities.
"'Where is something?' is the No. 1 question we get," said Jamie Iannone, CEO of SamsClub.com and executive vice president of membership and technology. Eventually, the app will use navigation beacon technology to map out the store with the fewest steps needed to complete the customer's shopping list.
It's not a concept store that Sam's Club plans to roll out nationwide.
Sam's Club Now will remain a one-of-a-kind working lab where engineers will develop and refine shopping tools based on customer use, he said. Those capabilities then can be taken to other stores. The Scan & Go app will be the "backbone" of the store and will be the only way to shop and check out.
Walmart and Sam's have other technology offices and efforts underway, but Sam's Club now is "one more avenue to develop, test and refine technology and features that will create new shopping experiences at scale," said Sam's Club CEO John Furner.
The retail industry is focused on technology that improves both the in-store and online customer experience.
Amazon has opened five of its Amazon Go convenience stores so far in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco. It'll reportedly expand to as many as 3,000 stores that let shoppers walk out without stopping to check out. In the grocery aisles, analysts say that Walmart, which owns Sam's Club, and Amazon, which purchased Austin-based Whole Foods Market in 2017, are in a technology arms race.
Sam's Club Now will also open with electronic price tags. There are plans to use augmented reality technology, Iannone said. The app will allow customers to place and pick up an order within an hour. It will also facilitate returns. Staff in the store will assist customers who haven't used the Scan & Go app.
The Scan & Go technology was also tested at Walmart, but the company decided not to move forward with it. It resonated with Sam's Club shoppers, Iannone said. More than 90 percent of members who try Scan & Go use it again, he said, and regular use is up 40 percent.
Furner said Lower Greenville residents will be invited to preview the store before it opens. Sam's officials declined to give a definite opening date, saying only it would be "in a couple of weeks."
The front of the store where checkout lanes would normally be located will have refrigerated cases with fresh grab-and-go meals. The meal sizes will be smaller than what is available in a full-size Sam's Club, which is four times as big as the 32,000-square-foot Sam's Club Now. Other packages also will be smaller.
The store will still have the main categories of fresh produce and meat, beer and wine, frozen and refrigerated foods, health and beauty and other consumables.
Dallas was chosen "because it's one of the best cities for tech talent," Furner said. Sam's Club also has been in the North Texas market for a long time and it's an easy trip from Bentonville, where the retailer in headquartered, he added.
Sam's Club Now is in a retail building with a history. Before it was a Walmart Neighborhood Market, it had housed, side-by-side, a Whole Foods Market and a Blockbuster Video.