AI Case Study

Walmart is enhancing its in-store customer experience with machine learning

Walmart’s warehouse club, Sam’s Club will launch a new store powered by emerging technology, in Dallas. Sam's club now will be a store where cashiers are replaced by its already existing app so that customers can scan products as they shop and check out through the app. Other features of the store include a camera system for inventory management, electronic shelf labels, wayfinding technology for in-store navigation and augmented reality. The retailer will also use machine learning to enhance the customer experience by creating shopping lists according to a customer's purchase history. The store will invite locals to test it while it is getting ready for its official opening early 2019.

Industry

Consumer Goods And Services

Retail General

Project Overview

"Walmart’s warehouse club, Sam’s Club is preparing to open the doors at a new Dallas area store that will serve as a testbed for the latest in retail technology. Specifically, the retailer will test out new concepts like mobile checkout, an Amazon Go-like camera system for inventory management, electronic shelf labels, wayfinding technology for in-store navigation, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence-infused shopping, among other things.

The retailer first announced its plans to launch a concept store in Dallas back in June, which was then said to be a real-world test lab for technology-driven shopping experiences.

Today, the company is taking the wraps off the project and is detailing what it has planned for the new location, which goes by the name “Sam’s Club Now.”

Like other Sam’s Club stores, consumers will need a membership to shop at Sam’s Club Now. But how they shop will be remarkably different.

Instead of cashiers, the store is staffed with “Member Hosts,” who will act more like concierges, the company says.

And instead of scanning items at a point-of-sale cashier stand, customers will use a specialized Sam’s Club Now mobile app.

The app leverages Sam’s Club existing “Scan & Go” technology, which is used today across its retail locations to help speed up checkout. With the current Scan & Go mobile app, shoppers can opt to scan items as they place them in their cart, then pay right on their phone. At Sam’s Club Now, however, the use of mobile scan-and-pay is required, not optional.

The Sam’s Club Now app will also be infused with other features the company wants to try out, including an integrated wayfinding and navigation system, augmented reality features, an A.I.-powered shopping list and more.

At launch the app will offer a built-in map for finding the right aisle for a given product, but over time, this mapping system will be upgraded to use beacon technology and will be tied to the customer’s shopping list to map their best route through the store.

The shopping list will also be powered by A.I. Using a combination of machine learning and customer purchase history, the list will be pre-populated with customers’ frequent purchases. Those items can be removed from the list, if not needed.

This way, customers won’t forget things they usually need to buy, the retailer says.

The lack of cashiers won’t be the only difference between this Sam’s Club Now and other locations. The store will also be just a quarter of the size of an average club, at 32,000 square feet. That means it will feature, in some cases, smaller pack sizes than at the other warehouse club locations.

Because of the smaller size, it will also feature a quarter of the usual staff at 44 associates. But the goal is not to eliminate staff and replace them with technology, the retailer claims.

More importantly, it will also include a new inventory management and tracking technology. Down the road, a system of over 700 cameras will be used to help the retailer manage the inventory and optimize the store layout.

On the shelves, it’s also testing electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, eliminating the need to print out paper signage."

Reported Results

Planned; results not yet available

Technology

"Using a combination of machine learning and customer purchase history, the list will be pre-populated with customers’ frequent purchases."

Function

Sales

Sales Operations

Background

Retail is a big field where AI is being used to revolutionise operations and customer experience.

Benefits

Data

Customer purchase history data