Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?

Discussion
Photos: Sam’s Club
Jul 13, 2021

Sam’s Club announced today that it is conducting a test of new Scan & Go technology that allows members to place direct-to-home orders for items that require shipping as they shop the aisles of its stores.

The new Scan & Ship pilot enables customers to get delivery on items such as children’s playsets, patio furniture, mattresses, big screen televisions and more, typically within three to five days.

The initial phase of the pilot is being tested in three Sam’s locations.

“Scan & Ship is the result of an internal program we’re really proud of called the Innovation Jam, which encourages associates to collaborate and develop prospective retail technology solutions during the two-day, sprint-like event,” Vinod Bidarkoppa, Sam’s chief technology officer, said in a statement. 

Sam’s sees the new feature as a means to better reflect the shopping preferences of its members. The retailer maintains that it “continues to be hyper-focused on digitally integrated clubs that deliver convenient, mobile-first experiences.” Management points to the ongoing success of the chain’s curbside pickup initiative that went from a 16-club test to full rollout in about seven weeks last year in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?
Photos: Sam’s Club

The number two warehouse club retailer has seen demand for its app and Scan & Go technology grow significantly over the last year. Sam’s points to statistics from AppTopia, which shows its mobile app being downloaded 9.6 million times in 2020, almost twice the rate of apps offered by its competitors. The mobile app, which achieved a 43.5 percent adoption rate increase year-over-year in the first quarter, expanded the reach of Scan & Go from the aisles of its clubs to its gas stations last year.

Sam’s president and CEO Kathryn McLay said during last month’s NRF Retail Converge conference that some members are reluctant to download another app onto their phones. The retailer’s solution is a new demo that enables members to scan a QR code to test Scan & Go before committing to the download. Club members can use the feature three times before being migrated to the full app.

“We know that once our members use Scan & Go they love the convenience it provides and are 90 percent more likely to use it again, so our team worked to design a solution that gives members an opportunity to test drive the feature and experience the benefits firsthand,” Mr. Bidarkoppa said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of Sam’s use of technology to improve the shopping experiences of its club members? How well do you think Sam’s is doing when it comes to aligning its technological assets with deployment of human resources, product merchandising, pricing and other elements of its business operations?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"They are building tools that help the shopper, not just doing tech for PR's sake — that's refreshing."
"What I like best about this story is the concept of “Innovation Jams.” Sometimes the best ideas are those that bubble up from the shop floor..."
"It’s a good non-tech idea made all the better with a little tech."

Join the Discussion!

18 Comments on "Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

This is an interesting and practical use of technology to enhance the shopping experience. It still requires a physical visit, but creates a far better experience by eliminating the need to deal with large/heavy purchases. The store visit will always remain at the heart of the warehouse retail experience, and so finding and deploying technology that actually enhances the experience is the challenge – this is a good example of how to do that.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

This is advanced technology which many customers are probably not ready for. Sam’s needs to re-examine the comfort level of its customers when trying to move forward with their shopping experience and the usage of the latest technology.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I shop both Sam’s and Costco. My assessment is that Sam’s is taking advantage of technology effectively. They are building tools that help the shopper, not just doing tech for PR’s sake — that’s refreshing.

With this new test, they seem to be aligning their assets well. In retrospect, this ship to home offering seems like a no-brainer. Good for them.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

What I like best about this story is the concept of “Innovation Jams.” Sometimes the best ideas are those that bubble up from the shop floor, and these sprints give voice to associates who are closest to the customer journey. We frequently leverage similar techniques in our consulting practice, but just as often we get pushback. We need to give voice to the customer and associates to create meaningful innovation.

Scan & Ship will make it almost too easy for shoppers to teleport bulky items to their homes. This removes the hassle of placing the order with an associate in the store, possibly adding another wait in line. It also eliminates the interruption of a shopper’s routine or flow of shopping. They can fill up their cart and proceed to checkout without missing a beat. Essentially, this moves furniture and all other large items into the impulse-buy category. Also, Sam’s Club’s proven ability to go from pilot to rollout will let us see the impact of Scan & Ship without much delay.

Christine Russo
BrainTrust

THIS RIGHT HERE: “Innovation Jam, which encourages associates to collaborate and develop prospective retail technology solutions during the two-day, sprint-like event” is EVERYTHING. Brick-and-mortar retailers that tap into customers’ behaviors and desires THROUGH the front-line associates create an incredible feedback loop and actionable insights and engage associates in a meaningful way.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Sam’s Club is going in the right direction with consumer-centric technology. The fact that they realize that most consumers don’t want another app, and offer a sort of try-before-you-buy approach to using the functionality, is very clever. Consumers will hook themselves.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

This is a win/win for Sam’s. They provide their customers with a frictionless experience for big ticket, bulky items, and they are able to be more efficient in operations. That alone is worth the investment in this labor market.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Sam’s latest move makes all kinds of sense because it fills two huge gaps: awareness and adoption. Sam’s is taking a hands-on approach to introducing members to the Scan & Ship capability and clearly outlining benefits and processes for adoption within the store environment. Sounds simple enough yet many retailers, and Sam’s in particular, have a history of launching all kinds of capabilities without thinking through how shoppers will find out about them and how to incentivize adoption. Facilitating the transport of the bulky items that Sam’s is known for will motivate members to make purchases, regardless of their heft, and the program also drives awareness for items that might otherwise get buried in Sam’s digital aisles. Nice move.

Jennifer Bartashus
BrainTrust

Scan & Ship has the potential to help Sam’s Club convert more shoppers to actual purchases for big and bulky items, which is a smart tactic. It addresses the risk of consumers seeing a product in the store but not acting on the purchase because they are unsure how to get it home, and reduces the risk that they won’t follow through and go back online to order an item once at home (or even worse to order from a competitor). Sam’s Club has been a key testing ground for technology for Walmart. Scan and go, which works brilliantly in clubs, turned out to be a great offering during the height of the pandemic when people were uninterested in standing in lines to check out. And that same tech has rolled over to Walmart as a perk of its Walmart+ subscription. Scan & Ship may follow the same path.

Richard Mader
Guest

My favorite store does it again. I shop Sam’s weekly, usig scan and go, mobile shopping and checkout. This is a great addition. I always touch, feel and examine big items before buying on line. This new process is perfect for me and any other.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Two thoughts come to mind. First, this is about a convenient experience. Customers love that. Second, Sam’s must teach the customer/member to use the app and technology. While adoption is on the increase, it’s still not at a tipping point where it’s used by most members. As mentioned in the article, once it’s used, 90 percent are likely to use it again. The key is to get the customer to use it for the first time.

David Mascitto
BrainTrust

This is the best of both worlds: In-person shopping to experience the product first-hand with the convenience of online shopping/delivery. It takes a lot of the effort out of shopping for large/bulky items (no more asking for favors from friends/family members with vans). Of course, the real purpose of this is to get shoppers to download the app so Sam’s can track their shopping behavior and tailor promotions. etc. If as a shopper you’re cool with that, go for it!

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

Why do you need another app? My question is, why can it not be integrated into Sam’s existing app?

James Ray
Guest

The test will no doubt “work” because a diversity of customers have various needs. Some will try and enjoy this option, especially those who don’t want to lug heavy/bulky purchases around while they shop various retail venues during the day. But because Sam’s Club is most often a destination shop and few shoppers arrive by bus, I think the majority of shoppers would prefer the store be in-stock and they take their purchases home same day. Scan & Go seems like a solution to a root problem called poor inventory availability; basically it’s a return to showroom shopping. Who really needs or wants to travel to a store location to scan and order when it’s easier to shop online and get rapid delivery at home?

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This is a great idea for heavy or bulky items, with or without anything digital or tech. I’m in the store and I can see, feel, touch, measure and make an informed decision. So whether I talk to a salesperson or use my phone, it’s a good idea. It’s a good non-tech idea made all the better with a little tech.

Venky Ramesh
BrainTrust

So many times, I decided to postpone my purchase (or decided not to) because the product was too big to fit in my car or I wasn’t motivated enough to rent a truck for it (e.g. a cool bookshelf I wanted to buy but didn’t need, patio furniture, etc.) My wife is probably happy that the scan & ship technology didn’t exist to support my impulsive whims.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Scan & Ship allows customers to easily add non-planned goods to their shopping cart without having to be concerned with transporting to their home or business. This technology gives customers permission to impulse shop big ticket items, something that most retailers do not offer today. A win-win for everyone!

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

Smart move by Sam’s. While Scan & Go may not have caught fire in its early days, Scan & Ship is ultra relevant, convenient and maintains social distancing. Not only is this a good use of technology, it’s an excellent way to improve in-store experience, safely. This may very well increase revenue from items that require shipping. It’s also likely that if a member uses the service three times that they would be willing to download the app the fourth time. Smart moves all around by Sam’s.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"They are building tools that help the shopper, not just doing tech for PR's sake — that's refreshing."
"What I like best about this story is the concept of “Innovation Jams.” Sometimes the best ideas are those that bubble up from the shop floor..."
"It’s a good non-tech idea made all the better with a little tech."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is Sam’s to move from piloting its Scan & Ship technology to a chainwide rollout?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...