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Sam’s Club Replaces Receipt Checks With AI-Powered Scans

Sam’s Club is replacing the practice of verifying receipts as shoppers exit the bulk retailer. 

Instead, the Walmart-owned company is rolling out new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technology that can visually scan customers’ carts, thus eliminating long lines along with the sometimes controversial practice of receipt checking, while still ensuring customers are paying for their purchases.

“Eliminating even the few seconds it takes to scan a receipt at the exit door is well worth it,” Megan Crozier, an executive vice president at Walmart, said last week when announcing the project during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Her comments were included in a Sunday (Jan. 15) report by The New York Times, which also notes that the practice of receipt checking has led to accusations of racial bias at other retailers, such as Lowe’s.

Sam’s Club’s new system works like this: When a shopper pays for their purchase — either at a register or using Scan & Go technology — a combination of computer vision and digital technology in the exit area of the club captures images of carts and verifies that the customer has paid for all the items in their basket. 

“With AI working in the background to continually speed the process, this digital innovation not only streamlines the member’s exit, but also allows exit greeters to refocus their time and expertise to assisting members and ensuring they have an enjoyable shopping experience,” Walmart said in a news release. 

The technology is available at 10 locations, and Sam’s Club says it plans to keep working on it, with plans to expand it to its almost 600 stores by year’s end.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS last week looked at some of the “weird but oddly helpful” devices on display at this year’s CES, including Ballie, Samsung’s rolling, bowling-ball sized “companion robot” that will be available for purchase later this year. 

“Not your typical home gadget, it projects movies, hosts video calls on walls, talks to your smart appliances, and even keeps an eye on your pets,” PYMNTS wrote.

“How good it is at all these tasks is a bit uncertain, but word has it that its projector works quite well. Unlike Samsung’s other home devices such as automated mops and vacuums, Ballie looks to be more of an all-around assistant.”