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Walmart to test the future of retail

The focus will be at Walmart’s Sam’s Club, which is a membership-only warehouse club unit. A new Sam’s Club will open in Dallas, Texas, U.S., with a retail technology edge. The store, according to The Verge, will also double as a retail technology test lab. The aim is to present an alternative to Amazon’s foray into cashless retail stores.

The test lab will be called Sam’s Club Now and this facility will incubate, test, and refine technologies, many of which will have mobile focus based on the Sam’s Club Now app. The app is a modification of the existing Scan and Go app. This app enables shoppers to scan barcodes on items or from shelves as they move around the store and then pay for these via their phone. This obviates the need to go to a check-out and pay for the items.

In the U.K., the mid-market clothes and food retailer Marks and Spencer is testing out a similar app at four key London stores, as Digital Journal has reported. See: “New app signals end of the supermarket checkout.”

The new app will be based on a more an interactive experience. Included among these will be ‘smart shopping lists’. These lists are drawn from big data insights, drawn from machine learning to auto-fill a person’s shopping list. The lists are based on past shopping experiences. The user can delete unwanted goods or add other items.

The app will also come with wayfinding and navigation features. Here, shoppers can use voice search capabilities. An item can be asked for, the app will say if it is in stock and then, via a map, direct the shopper to its location in the store. Alternatively, the shopping list can be used to create a map through the supermarket.

The app will also have an augmented reality part. This aspect is not detailed, although it is intended to allow shoppers to share experiences with products, and to provide information about items such as the farm where they came from.

The store itself will not have any cashiers, instead “member hosts” will assist shoppers as required.

Speaking with Smart2Zero, Jamie Iannone, Chief Executive Officer, SamsClub.com, said: “We’ll test electronic shelf labels that will instantly update prices, removing the need to print and replace new item price signs. And down the road, we’ll use the more than 700 cameras in the club to help us manage inventory in new ways and optimize the layout to make shopping effortless.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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