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Sam’s Club announced that it’ll be testing new technology this spring that uses computer vision to scan and identify items without needing to see the barcodes. According to a test conducted by Sam’s Club, the new tech cuts the time required to scan an item — such as a pack of bottled water — from around 9.3 seconds to as low as 3.4 seconds, a whopping 63% time savings.
Business Insider Intelligence
The technology — designed for Sam’s Club’s “Scan & Go” service, which enables customers to scan their items with a smartphone, pay through an app, and skip the checkout line — will be available via smartphone app, and Sam’s Club also anticipates adding it to the tools store associates use.
The tech will be tested first in the retailer’s Sam’s Club Now store but is planned to eventually roll out to the rest of Sam’s Club’s locations, according to Business Insider.
Scan & Go was shuttered at Walmart, but still works at Sam’s Club for a few reasons:
- Items are larger and easier to keep track of at Sam’s Club. Because of Sam’s Club’s bulk warehouse style, products are naturally larger and there are no loose items. This makes it harder for customers to walk out without paying for items. As Sam’s Club works on its new scanning tech, it may also help the software distinguish between items and make it easier for customers to target the item they’re intending to scan.
- Sam’s Club locations are laid out with one entrance and greeters checking receipts. This layout means that a Sam’s Club employee will always be able to double-check customers’ carts, a measure that can drastically help with theft. Greeters finding items that customers forgot to scan is a phenomenon that “happens all the time,” Sam’s Club CEO John Furner told Business Insider. A reduced risk of theft — either accidental or intentional — means that Sam’s Club can encourage customers to adopt Scan & Go without having to worry about increased rates of retail shrink.
The enhanced scanning technology can make it much easier to use Scan & Go at Sam’s Club locations. The bulkier items at Sam’s Club mean that having to hunt down and scan a barcode is a larger challenge for customers trying to use their smartphones to scan items for Scan & Go checkout.
The new tech may therefore help spur greater adoption of Scan & Go upon its release by removing this step and the labor that comes with it. Scan & Go is already seeing adoption rate increases of around 40% even without the new scanning tech, suggesting that further improvements could push Scan & Go’s popularity to a point where demand for cashiers starts to fall. Sam’s Club can then save money on labor and reassign associates to help with other tasks around the store.
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