In June, we shared a key part of our innovation strategy when we announced we’d open a new club in Dallas. Today – just four months later – we’re very close to opening this location we’re calling Sam’s Club Now, which will be the epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.

There won’t be another club like it. 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.

And here’s what we already know – the future of retail is as much about people as it is about technology.

Our associates are key to bringing this experience to life, which is why we’re introducing a new role called the Member Host. Think of these associates as the concierge of the club. We’ll empower them with new technology that will allow them to serve members better and faster. We’ve known for a long time our associates make the difference, and that won’t change just because shopping preferences evolve.

And shopping preferences are evolving. Since launching our Scan & Go app two years ago, we’ve seen its popularity continue to increase. More than 90% of members who try Scan & Go use it again on their next trip, and regular use is up 40% this year. That’s because it makes shopping easier and members like that.

So, we’re taking Scan & Go and making it the foundation of the new Sam’s Club Now app, which all members will use to shop here. This will be an interactive experience and they’ll help us test and refine new features before we launch them nationally. There will always be something new to test as we’ll regularly add new functionality to the app. When it opens, here are some things we can’t wait for members to try:

  • Smart shopping lists: We’ve developed intuitive technology that combines machine learning and purchase data to auto-fill a member’s shopping list. They can easily add or remove things, and as items are scanned the list will automatically update and move the item to their mobile basket.
  • Wayfinding and navigation: Gone are the days of wondering where something is in the club. Using voice search capabilities combined with new wayfinding and navigation features, a map will pop up and take members right to what they need. Eventually, we’ll be able to use beacon technology and a member’s smart shopping list to map the best route through the club.
  • Augmented reality: We’ll bring items to life in the club by sharing new ways to use them, and we’ll work to integrate stories that highlight cool features, including how items are sourced. We also have plans to use augmented reality to transform members’ digital carts into pirate ships. Or maybe you’d prefer a rocket? More on that soon!
  • One-hour Club Pickup: Using the app, members can now place and pickup an order within the hour.

The Sam’s Club Technology team, including technologists from our Innovation Center in Dallas, are leading this work for us. But innovation in Sam’s Club Now doesn’t stop with the app. At just 32,000 square feet, the club is a quarter the size of an average club. This makes it an ideal space to test new technologies that will make operating the clubs easier and more efficient.

We’ll test electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, removing the need to print and replace new item price signs. And down the road, we’ll use the more than 700 cameras in the club to help us manage inventory in new ways and optimize the layout to make shopping effortless.

We’re committed to redefining work in all areas of the club. We know our associates love being on the floor helping members. So we’ll design and test new tech-empowered ways of working that give our associates and our members the best Sam’s Club experience.

We’re putting Sam’s Club on the cutting edge of innovation in the warehouse channel. 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!