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Sam’s Club CEO wants to use AI-powered cart scanners to ring you up automatically

Sam’s Club members must ring up their totals using the company’s phone app before heading to the exits, but that’s going to change.

  • Sam’s Club’s new receipt-free exit tech is already wowing members at warehouses where it’s installed.
  • AI-powered cameras recognize purchases that shoppers make with the phone app’s scan-and-pay feature.
  • But Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says the scanning step will be eliminated too – “eventually.”

Walmart made waves last month when it revealed new AI tech that meant Sam’s Club would stop checking receipts at the door — and the process is expected to be even more streamlined in the future.

The high-tech system uses computer vision to recognize the contents of Sam’s Club members shopping carts to confirm their purchases as they exit the warehouse — dispensing with the need for physical receipt checks.

Currently installed in 10 stores, the big blue gateways are already a hit with customers, Sam’s Club CEO Chris Nicholas said on Walmart’s fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday. Sam’s Club is a Walmart-owned company.

“I was in a club last week watching members just walk out, and the joy that it gives them — that some computer vision and AI is making their lives better without them knowing why or how — is really exciting,” he said.

Sam’s Club uses computer vision and AI to confirm purchases in shoppers’ carts in real-time.

If the phrase “Just walk out” rings a bell, that’s of course because Amazon has been using it to market its own version of ultra-low friction convenience store-style shopping.

Sam’s Club US’s chief merchant, Megan Crozier, even threw some shade at the small-format tech during the company’s presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“It’s one thing to enable this easy kind of exit tech in a small-footprint store for a handful of items,” she said. “You’ve all seen it: You can get an apple, a cheese stick, maybe something as big as a box of cereal, but we’re doing it at scale.”

Warehouse scale, that is.

Of course, one key difference between the retailers’ tech is that Amazon’s stores automatically detect and charge for whatever shoppers pick and leave the store with, while Sam’s Club members must ring up their totals using the company’s phone app before heading to the exits.

But that’s going to change, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on Tuesday’s call.

“Eventually we want to remove all of that part of the process too,” he said.

“We do,” Sam’s Club’s Nichols added.

Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech doesn’t require scanning labels at all.

Neither McMillon nor Nicholas detailed when this next step would occur, but it could be a while yet. The company is still in the process of rolling out the futuristic blue gantries to its nearly 600 warehouses across the US through the rest of this year.

Even so, it’s another shot at Amazon that Walmart has taken in recent months as the world’s largest retailer beefs up its e-commerce performance, marketplace partnerships, and digital ad business.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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