Sam’s Club Wants to Make It Easier to Scan, Pay and Go

A new app feature uses a camera to identify purchases

The test will take place at its tech-lab-meets-retail-club, Sam’s Club Now, in Dallas this spring. Sam's Club
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Good news for consumers who have been frustrated by existing self-checkout options: Sam’s Club, Walmart’s members-only warehouse, will test an app update that uses a camera to identify products in a shopper’s cart by hovering over them instead of having to locate and scan barcodes.

The test will take place at its tech-lab-meets-retail-club, Sam’s Club Now, in Dallas this spring.

The new functionality uses computer vision and machine learning to help customers check out faster. In a video demo, scanning a pack of water took 3.4 seconds with the updated version, as opposed to 9.3 seconds with the existing app.

A representative said via email that Sam’s Club anticipates a staggered roll-out and test for a few months prior to expansion.

The release noted Sam’s Club expects to incorporate the technology into the tools its associates use, as well as to experiment with machine learning and artificial intelligence to help manage member shopping lists.

The Scan & Go app, which has more than 1 million downloads in the Google app store, has allowed customers to scan UPC codes and to check themselves out since 2016. In October 2018, the 32,000-square-foot Sam’s Club Now location debuted along with a new app with features like smart shopping lists, in-store voice search and maps to product locations (which will eventually combine beacons with smart shopping lists to map optimal routes) and one-hour pickup.

As previously reported, grocery delivery and pickup options are high on Walmart’s list of both domestic and international priorities. Another high priority among retailers: minimizing the pain point that is checkout. In addition to sister brand Walmart and archrival Amazon, other retailers with cashierless technology include Kroger, Target and 7-Eleven.

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.