New tech aims to improve member experience in Tire and Battery Center

BENTONVILLE, Ark., June 11, 2019 – Sam’s Club continues to push out innovative technology to help its associates and improve the member shopping experience. The warehouse club announced that starting in July, Sam’s Club associates will be armed with Sam’s Garage, which will allow associates to give members personalized tire recommendations in less than five minutes (previously a 30-minute experience). Sam’s Garage is just one example of how the company is leveraging technology in new ways to provide a personalized and efficient shopping experience.

With Sam’s Garage, the Tire and Battery Center goes from a desk, multi-system and catalog setup to a user-friendly app on a mobile tablet. Tire and Battery Center associates will use the Sam’s Garage app, which incorporates all five supplier systems, in-club inventory, vehicle-industry data (like specs, trims, size), and years of member purchase history from all Sam’s Club locations nationwide. The member-consultation process will now take less than five minutes while proprietary algorithms provide personalized recommendations for members’ cars. The total cost of the tires is immediately calculated including discounts, taxes, instant savings, disposal fees, etc.

Sam’s Garage helps with more than just tires. Associates will be able to view the member’s “garage” to understand what has been purchased or when the car had its tires rotated last, all of which will help provide better service in the future. The app also helps identify the not only which tires, but also which wipers and battery are needed for each member, with in-club inventory listed first.

Tasked with the challenge in the fall of 2018, Suchi Vakkalagadda, the engineering brain behind building the app, dug through 25+ year old technology for all club locations and supplier-provided systems. With 600 clubs, five systems and inventory for each, that means 1,100+ data sources just to start. From concept to completion, this innovative technoogy took less than nine months to build, test and put into use in clubs across the country.

After the nationwide rollout of Sam’s Garage in July, Vakkalagadda and her team hope to expand the app's use into every area of the Tire and Batter Center business, from item selection to pro-service inspection.

For a glimpse at how the new app speeds up the tire buying process, check out this video.