Sam’s Club will soon be introducing a whole new way to shop in Dallas, Texas. Their new location, called Sam’s Club Now, will serve as the company’s “epicenter of innovation,” where they’re testing everything from augmented reality product overlays to self-checkout via mobile app. A video on their site demonstrates what the experience could look like.
Shoppers will be able to make grocery lists on the app before entering the store. When they arrive, a map on their phone will direct them where to go to find the items on their list. The directions can also be activated by voice commands. Product pricing will use electronic labels — eliminating the need to manually print and replace signage. Scanning a product with their phone before adding it to a physical shopping cart allows for self-checkout when they’re finished.
AR product experiences will include showing ways to use the product, highlighting key features, and even speak to how items are sourced. There will also be kid-friendly experiences such as turning digital shopping carts into pirate ships or rockets.
Sam’s Club is using the new location to serve as a testing lab for these new technologies before rolling them out to other clubs. They’ll be using over 700 cameras to continually scan and optimize.
Why It’s Hot
Sam’s Club is testing innovative concepts that have the power to transform the everyday shopping experience.
Faced with diminishing profits in their brick-and-mortar business (along with the entire retail industry), Nordstrom announced a new, forward-thinking venture: Nordstrom Local, tiny stores with no inventory. This may seem counterintuitive, given Nordstrom’s historical dominance in the large-scale department store category, but the experimental stores are drawing on several key elements of recent commerce (and, specifically, e-commerce) successes like Warby Parker and Bonobos.
First, the stores are pivoting to a fully e-commerce process for purchasing items. These tiny stores will be outfitted (no pun intended) with devices that will allow customers to place orders for anything in the Nordstrom universe, and the stores will act as access points for customers wishing to pick up online orders and return items.
Second, the stores are also focusing on the brand experience, not the available inventory, as the core value-add of the physical location. Nordstrom Local stores will offer premium services such as personal stylists, wine, and manicures as a way to reframe the in-store experience as one of luxury, pampering, catered attention, etc.
Why it’s hot: With the retail industry in free-fall, retailers desperately need to innovate in order to survive, and these small-scale stores just might be the trick. Nordstrom isn’t the only one to try this approach –Sephora recently launched a similar small-scale store in Boston – but they’re certainly one of the largest. If their Local stores succeed, it may prove a path forward for other struggling retailers.
A company called Wheely’s has created Moby Mart, a 24/7, on demand, self-driving, drone and digital assistant serviced, all electric, environmentally friendly, grab and go, digital payment only convenience store, currently autonomously piloting the streets of Shanghai. Or, as they put it on their website – “It is the store that comes to you, instead of you coming to the store.”
Bonus non-product marketing demo video:
Why it’s hot:
It’s interesting to think about what the world could look like when a number of often separate technologies come together. This may just be a primitive attempt at imagining it, but imagine the ultimate convenience provided by combining a number of technologies individually aimed at creating convenience for people. Anything could be delivered to you wherever you are, without direct human assistance.