A peek inside the UX design process at Sam’s Club


When creating a new mobile experience, Sam’s Club is always thinking about what the user experience will be like for our members and associates. We want applications that are not only powerful and sleek, but that are intuitive and easy to use.

This is where Sam’s Club’s User Experience (UX) Design team comes in. This team, led by Martin Granstrom, is responsible for the design work behind Sam’s Club’s mobile applications and ecommerce site.

Our main objective is to design digital tools that create a seamless end-to-end experience for our members, whether they shop in-club or online, and make our associates jobs easier.

Martin Granstrom
Martin Granstrom - Senior Director of User Experience at Sam’s Club

Here is an inside look at what the design process looks like for mobile experiences developed at Sam’s Club.

Identify a problem
Creating a good user experience through design involves a lot of research, planning and discovery. After listening to feedback from associates and members, the Sam’s Club design team works to solve problems and identify pain-points in an effort to make shopping and working at Sam’s Club better.

"Once we discover a problem, we establish what business and experience goals we want to achieve,” said Martin. For example, we might have a goal to reduce the checkout time, simplify a certain shopping process or ensure a friendly checkout experience."

Begin the UX process
Once a problem is defined, the next part is to figure out a solution. This starts with brainstorming and whiteboarding at a high-level. Then the team chooses a path and starts to develop the initial wireframe designs. These designs are tested with members or associates and then the team iterates on the designs to refine the solution.

Martin told us that, “this design process allows us to do a lot of research and testing before implementing a new digital experience to make sure it will benefit our associates and members, have a positive impact on our bottom line and drive the business forward. We are always prepared to iterate and reiterate our designs over and over again to make them right.”

  • Conduct a whiteboard and brainstorming session
    Conduct a whiteboard and brainstorming session
  • Develop initial wireframe designs
    Develop initial wireframe designs
  • Gather associate feedback
    Gather associate feedback
  • Refine design
    Refine design

Bring the solution to life
Martin’s team is responsible for the total end-to-end design experience of Sam’s Club’s mobile applications, from what the application will look, to what will be on each screen display, to how it will work in the club environment - and every point in between and beyond.

“My team was recently asked to design ‘Express Checkout’ – a new, digital experience that will allow associates to take a payment at the exit door instead of sending the member back to the register if an error is found, “ said Martin. “Sam’s Club associates currently use a piece of technology at the exit door called an SM1 to verify receipts, so we wanted to find out if we could use the same device to take a payment.”

A 3D prototype was developed to show how associates could complete a payment transaction on the SM1. The prototype was as simple as sticking a card reader on an SM1 device with some double-sided tape, but it offered the team some great insights, including where the card reader should be located.

Express Checkout is still in a test phase and hasn’t been implemented at club-level yet, but that’s expected to come soon. “Our experience team, which consists of design, business, product and engineering, is still working together to collect data and make changes to ensure it will be a smooth experience for our associates and members once it rolls out. It’s truly a total team effort.”

  • Made a rough mockup using SM1 device, tape and a card reader
    Made a rough mockup using SM1 device, tape and a card reader
  • Used 3D printing to develop a prototype
    Used 3D printing to develop a prototype
  • Used 3D printing to develop a prototype
    Used 3D printing to develop a prototype
  • Finalized prototype based on feedback and learnings
    Finalized prototype based on feedback and learnings

Find the next generation of designers
Martin and a member of his team, Chandan Sharma, recently partnered with the University of Arkansas to create a semester-long design program for a group of undergrad students studying design. The class does hands-on projects to get real-world work experience.

“This program has been really beneficial because we get to teach the students about the Sam’s Club design process and we’ve developed a future talent pool for internships and open positions by getting to know the students on a first-hand basis.”