Sam's Club
Sam's Club will expedite the checking out process with the help of an AI-powered check out system. Wikimedia Commons

Walmart-owned Sam's Club is introducing a new AI-powered checkout system that will reportedly minimise customers' wait times.

Sam's Club, the membership-based warehouse retailer, will let customers scan and pay for groceries with an app on their phone, eliminating the need to interact with a checkout machine.

"At Sam's Club US, we're rolling out new exit technology that enables our members to use scan and go to just walk out after completing their transaction on their phone," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in an earnings call last week.

After scanning and paying with their phones, customers can exit through an AI-powered seamless exit system, which uses cameras to automatically verify that all items in the cart have been scanned and paid for. Since there's no need for receipt checks at the exit, members can leave the store directly.

"Shopping cart images are captured by cameras and, using A.I. in the background, payments are seamlessly verified – eliminating the wait at the exit while also enabling member specialists to engage with members," Todd Garner, Interim Chief Product Officer, Sam's Club noted in a blog post.

It is worth noting that long wait times at Sam's Club exits during peak hours have been a major pain point for members. However, the new checkout system is expected to address this concern.

Streamlining checkout processes using AI

Sam's Club is piloting this new scan-and-go checkout system at 10 US locations and aims to implement it across all 600 stores by the end of 2024. However, it's unclear whether this feature will reach Walmart stores.

Just like Costco, Sam's Club offers bulk grocery items, electronics and home goods. Standard membership costs $50 (£39.57) annually, while its premium membership is $110 (£87.06) a year, both undercutting their competitor by $10 ( £7.91).

The new checkout technology aims to simplify and expedite the shopping process for customers using Sam's Club's Scan & Go system. Using Sam's Club's Scan & Go system is simple:

  • Download the Sam's Club app.
  • Scan product barcodes while shopping and place items in their cart.
  • Pay for their purchases through the app when finished.

Although Scan & Go allows shoppers to skip checkout lines, shoppers using Scan & Go still need to show their digital receipts to a staff member before exiting. The recently announced AI-backed technology aims to eliminate this step, allowing for a truly seamless exit.

At the exit, AI and computer vision technology will capture images of customers' carts and ensure all scanned items are paid for, eliminating the need for receipt checks.

This is not surprising, considering the transformative potential of AI across various industries. In fact, retail and finance are 2 of the 5 industries that are expected to undergo a radical AI-fueled overhaul over the next decade.

Likewise, a 2017 survey predicted that AI will be the primary method of interaction between banks and their customers within three years.