Walmart is about to open a members-only, cashier-less ‘Sam’s Club Now’ retail store in Dallas, Texas, announced CEO Jamie Iannone in a blog post. The store will serve as an epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club Now stores, he added. That is, the Dallas store will be the testing ground for refining technologies and innovations in the stores of the same kind to be launched later. The move is generally understood as Walmart’s take on the Go Conveniences stores opened by Amazon, the company’s biggest rival in the retail segment. The new store will be powered by smartphones and the new Sam’s Club Now app. The patrons will use the app to scan their shopping items, which will be scanned again by a staff member at the exit point.
Which means that the store will not be completely automated like Amazon’s Go Convenience outlets. At a Go store, patrons get in with a swipe of the Go app, take what they want and just go out, letting the app do the rest about payment. However, there are other differences between the two concepts, that put Sam’s Club Now in a better light. Whereas the Go stores are on the smaller side, occupying space between 1200 to 2300 square feet, Walmart’s Dallas store is much more spacious, measuring 32000 square feet. What the company has in mind is obviously not a chain of small convenience stores, but something much bigger.
The store will have about 700 cameras, and also, electronic shelf labels to update prices instantly. Iannone said that other technologies will be added soon like computer vision, artificial intelligence and robotics. Evidently, Walmart is trying to catch up with Amazon, which made a big dent in its revenue with online business. And now, with six stores in three cities and more to come up, Amazon is giving competition in Walmart’s great strength, the brick and mortar retail business. Walmart could have never liked Amazon’s online reach, but competition in the field of physical stores is too much, which calls for a big gesture in retaliation.