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Sam’s Club Says AI Exit Scans Are in 120 Stores

Sam's Club

Sam’s Club said its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered exit scanners are now in 120 stores.

The technology, first announced in January, eliminates the practice of having customers wait in line as they exit the bulk retailer to have their receipts checked by employees.

“Sam’s Club’s rapid deployment of its exit technology represents the largest-scale implementation of member-facing AI-powered technology in the retail industry,” the Walmart-owned company said in a news release Tuesday (April 30).

“The retailer’s announcement of reaching the milestone of deploying at 20% of its clubs in the first quarter comes as other retailers have struggled to deploy similar technology at scale, with some abandoning efforts, just starting initial pilots or having no plans to enhance customer experiences through checkout and store exit technologies,” the release added. 

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

Sam’s Club said that in stores where the technology has been used, more than half its members are “getting the friction-free exit experience, which means all members are leaving its stores 23% faster. The company plans to deploy the technology to all of its clubs by year’s end.

The rollout is happening as Sam’s Club and other wholesale club retailers are unveiling promotions that – as PYMNTS wrote last week — “suggest they are having trouble getting shoppers to spring for full-priced memberships.”

The past few weeks have seen Sam’s Club and its rivals Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club announce deals on discounted memberships.

“Times of economic distress should have their advantages for wholesale clubs, which promise consumers better deals by enabling them to buy in bulk,” PYMNTS wrote.

And to be clear, all three retailers have reported an increase in membership income in their most recent financial results.

“However, it seems that the initial hurdle of the membership cost may be keeping many consumers from defecting from their previously preferred retailers,” PYMNTS wrote.

That report pointed to a PYMNTS Intelligence survey showing that 52% of consumers have switched to merchants with lower prices to buy retail products, while just 44% have followed a similar path when buying grocery products.

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