A new Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) store is not usually a big deal, but the one announced today is considerably different. The company is “very close” to opening its first cashierless members-only Sam’s Club Now store located in Dallas.
Similar to Amazon Go stores, the new store is powered by technology. In this case, a new app called Sam’s Club Now, is based on Walmart’s Scan & Go app. Customers use their phones with the new app installed to scan items as the shoppers make their way through the warehouse-style store. When it’s time to check out, a Walmart employee (called a Member Host, not an associate) will scan the just the customer’s phone.
Another unique feature of the Sam’s Club Now stores is their size. At 32,000 square feet, the stores are about a quarter the size of a Sam’s Club warehouse store.
In a blog post, Sam’s Club CEO Jamie Iannone said:
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!
The company noted four features of the new stores: smart shopping lists that combine machine learning along with purchase data to auto-fill a shopping list; navigation using voice search to show customers where items are located; augmented reality; and one-hour pickup for orders placed with the app.
The navigation feature eventually will use beacon technology and the customer’s shopping list to map out the best route through the store. Ianonne also said the company has plans to “bring items to life” by using augmented reality to share new ways to see them.
Walmart stock is participating in Monday’s share price increases, trading up about 2.2%, at $101.16 in a 52-week range of $81.78 to $109.98. The stock’s 12-month consensus price target is $105.03.