Feb. 17, 2021
Our associates continue to rise above the challenges of the pandemic to take care of our members, communities and one another. So, we strive to deliver our associates the protection and peace of mind they deserve.
The new health screening kiosk, currently rolling out to our clubs across the country, enables a safer, quicker and more reliable COVID-19 screening procedure. The contactless kiosk will be equipped with patent-pending technology including: a built-in body temperature scanner, a camera sensor able to verify identity from a distance and a digital health screening questionnaire activated by hand motion.
To share the story behind this innovative technology, we sat down with one of our product managers, Ben Ellison, and Ginese Colletti, Director of Software Engineering, to learn more about their team’s impactful project.
How we approached the situation
The creation of the kiosk began with a question: how can Sam’s Club conduct health screenings in the most safe and efficient way? Manual screening presented risks and third-party options could not accommodate the needs of all of our clubs. So, what did it take to find an answer?
A little bit of ingenuity and a lot of collaboration from one of Sam’s Club’s cross-functional teams.
“After reviewing hundreds of third-party options, our team realized Sam’s Club had the capability to build a better equipped kiosk ourselves,” Ben said. “So that’s exactly what we did.”
Describing the benefits behind this decision, Ginese said:
“Few health screening options on the market are truly touchless. We knew if we could create our own first-class screening technology and make our kiosk completely contactless, Sam’s Club would be able to lower risk of exposure for our associates, streamline the screening process and seamlessly grow the product.”
How we developed our solution
With the set goal to create Sam’s Club-specific screening technology, the end-to-end team—including associates from operations, technology, product and more—sprang to action.
Highlighting the speed and spirit of innovation involved, Ben said, “Despite stay-at-home orders and restricted access to our equipment, software engineer Ryan Giovacchini was able to create a working prototype within a single day using his 3D printer at home.” Talk about building a solution in-house!
Then, with prototype in hand, the team began testing and collecting feedback inside the club. “We’ve made over a hundred iterations based on what we learned from our associates,” Ginese said. “From adding instructional signage to ensuring the protection of sensitive health data, we are taking all the essential steps to optimize functionality, safety and security.”
Now, the iterative process hums along at full speed as Sam’s Club prepares to bring the automated health screening kiosk to all of our nearly 600 clubs.
How we prepared for the future
When asked about what comes after COVID, both Ginese and Ben said they believe the need for health screening technology will remain well after the current pandemic. By investing in foundational systems and establishing a culture of wellness now, Sam’s Club enables boundless opportunity to evolve and scale our proprietary technology in the future.
The story behind our kiosk, part of a larger narrative about our robust response to the pandemic, shows how having a propensity for innovation and adaptability continues to be critical to Sam’s Club’s long-term success.
So, regardless of what this year brings, we are recommitting to our innovative approach to retail. Because we know the future begins with what we do now.