29/05/2024

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Sam’s to introduce AI to do away with checking receipts at the exit door

Sam’s to introduce AI to do away with checking receipts at the exit door

Artificial intelligence is coming to the check-out line for shoppers at Sam’s Club. It’s a move designed to speed the experience and answer some simmering complaints from customers. 

The allure for warehouse clubs, like Sam’s, is the discount and variety of shopping, there. It is, largely, a self-serve experience that can become bogged-down when shoppers are ready to leave.

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Like a lot of retailers, Sam’s leans heavily on self-checkout. But along with workforce savings, it also includes the problem of ‘shrinkage’. That’s the industry term for products that get out the door without being paid for. The National Retail Federation says losses top $100 billion each year. 

At Sam’s, that can mean a sense-of ‘inquisition’ getting out the door as clerks check receipts and purchases.

“Some people get very upset about that, saying, ‘Hey, if you want me to do the self checkout, you need to trust me.’,” says University of Houston Bauer School of Business marketing expert Paul Galvani. 

On Facebook, viewers expressed mixed reaction to the checkout experience. 

Christine Mueller says, “I started asking them to help me load my car and they can check then.” 

Steve Lancaster counters, “I couldn’t care less. I can’t imagine getting outraged over this.”

And Mike Davis’ solution: “You do know you can walk right past them without showing anything. Am I the only one that does this with a smile?” 

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The conversation may soon be moot as Sam’s says it’s ready to introduce artificial-intelligence scanners at exits that will use cameras to scan cart contents, cross-referenced with receipts, to speed the checkout process. 

Sam’s says it will address a “key customer concern.” Saying in a press release, “We care about every second a member spends with us, so saving them even a few seconds is well worth it if we can make their experience more delightful.”

Galvani believes it puts pressure on other retailers to catch up, “I think this puts Sam’s in the driver seat of innovation, right now, and gives Costco a need to catch up.” 

For its part, Costco recently announced plans to add more cashiers, and limit self-checkout to speed the checkout process and reduce shrinkage. 

Interestingly, the receipt-check is part of the terms and conditions for Sam’s Club members. The company says it’s to ensure customers are charged correctly for everything. Sam’s says it plans to have these new scanners deployed in its 600 stores by the end of the year.