The small-format Sam's Club Now unit in Dallas that will incubate, test and refine new technologies.

“So, we’re taking Scan & Go and making it the foundation of the new Sam’s Club Now app, which all members will use to shop here,” Iannone added. “This will be an interactive experience and they’ll help us test and refine new features before we launch them nationally. There will always be something new to test as we’ll regularly add new functionality to the app.”

Among the technologies that will be tested at the Dallas club will be:

  • Smart shopping lists that will combine machine learning and purchase data to auto-fill members’ shopping lists. Lists can easily add or remove things since the items are scanned and the lists will automatically update and move the item to members’ mobile baskets.
  • Wayfinding and navigation to end searching for the location of products in the club. A map equipped with voice search capabilities combined with new wayfinding and navigation features will pop up and direct members to their sought-after item. Sam’s eventually will be able to use beacon technology and members’ smart shopping lists to map out the best routes through the club.
  • Augmented reality that will share new ways to use the products and integrate stories to highlight features, including how items are sourced. Sam’s also plans to use augmented reality to “transform members’ digital carts into pirate ships. Or maybe rockets? More on that soon,” the retailer said cryptically.
  • One-hour Club Pickup via the app will allow members to place and pick up an order within the hour for the first time.

The Dallas technology incubator-cum-membership club will be different in non-high tech ways. The 32,000-square-foot unit will be one-quarter the size of an average club. “That makes it an ideal space to test new technologies that will make operating clubs easier and more efficient,” Iannone said.

Other innovations have planned tests at the Dallas club, including electronic shelf labels that instantly update prices, eliminating the need for printing and replacing new signs every time a product’s price changes. Farther in the future, the unit will employ more than 700 cameras to help manage inventory in new ways and optimize layouts at the club to make shopping easier.

“We’re putting Sam’s Club on the cutting edge of innovation in the warehouse channel. Using all available technologies — including computer vision, AR, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, just to name a few — we will redefine the retail experience today and into the future,” the retailer boasted.