Walmart preps to take on Amazon Go

Walmart has a new Sam’s Club concept store in the works, and it could give Amazon’s cashierless convenience stores a run for their money.

Keeping a focus on an “easier shopping experience,” the discount giant is developing a technology-driven store focused on fresh foods and digital technology. The new format will be located in the Lower Grenville neighborhood of Dallas, and will be a membership club like all Sam’s Clubs locations. But at 32,000 sq. ft., it will be much smaller than a typical Sam’s location.

“This will be smaller than a typical club — which is perfect for testing innovations in a live shopping environment,” Jamie Iannone, CEO, Sam’s Club, said on the company’s website. “You can expect to see a new level of convenience at this facility, and the technologies we use will continue to evolve.”

For example, the location will feature a digital experience, including the company’s Scan & Go mobile self-checkout system, and digital signage will be found throughout the club. It will also feature fast membership sign-up process, along with self-serve returns, and same-day pickup and delivery options.

The club will also have an assortment of between 1,000 to 2,000 items. These will be comprised of convenience items, fresh foods, grab-and-go meals, and consumable items members buy most frequently,” according to Iannone.

"The cashier-less trend is really part of the bigger picture of needing to put the customer experience first. For brick-and-mortar shoppers, the biggest pain point is checkout,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce. “Amazon Go was a success because it found a way to remove that friction from the experience. Retailers like Walmart and Sam’s Club are realizing how important it is to focus on their customers. As consumers continue to change, retailers need to find ways to change with them.”

Walmart has already started working on the project, and expects the new store to open its doors in the fall. Once open, it will create between 30 and 40 jobs, he added.

The store is Walmart’s response to the new Amazon Go concept, which allows shoppers to launch an app on their mobile device as they enter, and take the products they want off of store shelves. Amazon’s “walk out” technology automatically detects when products are taken off (or returned) to the shelves, keeps track of them in a virtual cart, and electronically bills the customer’s stored payment card.
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