Sam’s Club’s Scan & Ship Tech Pairs In-Store Shopping Benefits With ‘Bring It To Me’  Ease

Sam's Club

Walmart’s warehouse chain Sam’s Club has announced plans to pilot a new Scan & Go feature designed to allow shoppers to scan items in-store for automatic direct-to-home shipping via a newly integrated tool within its smartphone app. According to a company statement, the new feature is designed to give consumers greater control over their shopping experience. 

“We challenge ourselves every day to develop and execute convenient solutions that disrupt the warehouse model and provide additional value to our members,” Tim Simmons, senior vice president and chief product officer at Sam’s Club, said in a press release.

The new feature, called Scan & Ship, is designed to open up optionality for consumers who may be attempting to buy large items like furniture, big screen TVs or swing sets that are difficult to transport and are more easily shipped professionally to one’s front door. The program is currently being tested in three locations to allow the business to gather critical member feedback and modify functionality within the app before scaling to additional stores.

“Scan & Go has been such a success story for us, and Scan & Ship is a fantastic extension to all of the great innovation we already have in place,” said Vinod Bidarkoppa, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Sam’s Club. 

The Rise Of Omnichannel And ‘Bring It To Me’ Retail

Sam’s Club isn’t the only big name in retail to push into buy in-store, ship to home, as brands including Home Depot, ACE Hardware and Whole Foods all offer variations on the service to allow shoppers to choose their goods in person and have them shipped to their eventual destination. 

At first glance, it might be a bit of a head-scratching offering, given that it still requires the consumer to physically go to a store.  According to the latest Bring-It-To-Me Economy report, a PYMNTS and Carat from Fiserv collaboration, consumers love not having to go to the store. “The most common factor that consumers now say will encourage them to shop with more brick-and-mortar retailers is to not have to go into stores at all; they want in-store pickup and curbside delivery options to help them avoid having to shop in person,” the report notes.  

So why offer an in-person option when people want to stay at home? Because, depending on the product, some consumers still want to see things and shop in-store for them. Whole Foods, for example, offers some urban consumers free two-hour home delivery of the groceries they just purchased at checkout, a handy offering for an urban customer without a car who prefers to pick their own fresh produce themselves but doesn’t relish the idea of carrying shopping bags on the subway to get home.

While one can imagine that most of Sam’s Club’s Scan & Ship customers will probably continue to buy big-screen TVs and swing sets online, consumers buying things like furniture might want to travel to a physical store to actually sit on it first and make sure it feels as good as it looks in the picture.  

In fact, a soon-to-be-released report from PYMNTS and Toshiba indicates that for two-thirds of consumers, shopping in-store remains important because they want to handle the physical product and verify its quality (57 percent) or because they want to use the shopping trip to get other ideas of what to buy (44 percent).  

But in-store consumers still want choice and convenience, and Sam’s Club is offering a new way to give it to them — a way that allows them to see and handle their purchase before they buy it in-store, but lets them skip all the store-related pain points, like waiting in line to pay (which PYMNTS data demonstrates consumers surely hate) or having to figure out how to get it into the car. 

Clearly, the service is not for every customer — but then again, no single service is. However, should the Sam’s Club pilot prove to have a solid consumer uptake, it’s a safe bet that we will start seeing Scan & Ship pop up in more retail locations as the bring-it-to-me economy keeps expanding and maturing, both online and in physical stores.