Sam’s Club has begun testing a new in-store service that provides a ship-to-home option straight from the aisle.
Called Scan & Ship, the service enables members to use the Sam’s Club mobile app to scan a product QR code — on a shelf tag or the package — for eligible merchandise and place a direct-to-home order, the Walmart-owned warehouse club chain said Tuesday. The program leverages Sam’s Club’s Scan & Go service, which allows members to scan items with their smartphone as they shop and pay through the retailer’s app, skipping the checkout line.
Currently, Scan & Ship is being piloted at three locations, including Sam’s Clubs in Murrieta, Calif., and McKinney, Texas, and the Sam’s Club Now technology innovation store in Dallas.
“Scan & Ship works with the Scan & Go feature of the Sam’s Club app and was created to provide additional value for our members by accelerating omnichannel shopping that delivers on convenience. Most importantly, like Scan & Go, it offers members control over that shopping experience,” Tim Simmons, senior vice president and chief product officer at Sam’s Club, said in a preview of the pilot yesterday.
“Imagine shopping for a large TV, a patio set, a mattress or finding a grill you didn’t know you needed until you saw it in Sam’s Club,” he explained. “The problem is you don’t have any way to get it home, or maybe a member wants an item in a different color than we have available in the club that day, or the specific item they’re looking for while they’re visiting our club is out of stock. No need to go home and order online. Scan & Ship provides a direct-to-home solution that allows our members to place their order in-club.”
Scan & Ship initially will cover a “broad set of categories,” according to Simmons. Besides items that require large vehicles to transport — such as play sets, patio furniture, mattresses, big-screen televisions and grills — eligible products include items suitable for direct sale from SamsClub.com, such as consumer electronics, as well as club-size food and groceries, such as bottled water. Members also can select alternate colors and sizes of products unavailable in the club. Delivery usually takes three to five business days, depending on the item and availability.
“Early reviews are incredibly promising,” Simmons said. In the Murrieta and McKinney clubs, more than 65 products (covering 1,600 items) have Scan & Ship coding for the pilot, while 13 products have Scan & Ship capability at the Sam’s Club Now store. “We’re exploring different avenues to increase member awareness and expanding the number of products available,” he added.
Bulk-size food and groceries are among the eligible merchandise in the Scan & Ship pilots.
The introduction of Scan & Ship stems from the popularity of the Sam’s Club app and Scan & Go, Simmons said. The app tallied 9.6 million downloads last year, nearly twice as many as competitors’ apps, and earned a 4.9 app store rating, according to AppTopia. Positive user reviews reflected strong affinity for Scan & Go, which expanded to all Sam’s Club fuel stations in 2020 and saw adoption rise 43.5% year over year in the first quarter.
“Last year, we attracted new members, retained existing members and grew in-club and e-commerce sales. Much of that success was fueled by technology. Our members turned to us for convenient, frictionless shopping, and we provided them tech-enabled solutions through the Sam’s Club app with things like curbside pickup and Scan & Go,” noted Simmons. “Our contactless payments and convenient experiences are a big part of differentiating capabilities that helped enable our growth and will continue to do so moving forward.”
That also includes bringing scanning functionality to app-averse customers. This month, Sam’s Club rolled out “instant app software” that enables members who don’t have its mobile app to try Scan & Go without having to perform a download.
“We know that Scan & Go is an experience that when our members try it once, they’re hooked for life. But after talking with our members, we learned that some are reluctant to download another app onto their devices, which renders them unable to use Scan & Go in the traditional way,” Vinod Bidarkoppa, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Sam’s Club, said in the preview press conference. “So today, we’re also sharing with you the chainwide launch of a new omni experience at all clubs that will allow our members to instantly try Scan & Go without having to download the Sam’s Club app. All members do is simply scan a QR code to try to experience. After they try Scan & Go for the first time, they’ll be prompted to download the Sam’s Club app so they can use it on each shopping trip going forward.
The demo feature employs near-field communication (NFC) technology and only requires scanning a QR code for access to Scan & Go functionality. Members key in a payment option, and the demo can used for purchases up to three times before a message prompts them to download the Sam’s Club app to use Scan & Go.
According to Simmons and Bidarkoppa, members who try Scan & Go are 90% more likely to use it again, and the demo aims to give Scan & Go newbies a taste of contactless and checkout-free shopping.
“In our initial launch weekend at 11 clubs, we had nearly a hundred orders on the platform,” Bidarkoppa said. “The program was so successful that we accelerated the rollout. Learning fast, we’re helping teach our members — who we know adapt to technology quickly — to use the QR code and take Scan & Go for a test drive.”
Sam’s Club expects to roll out Scan & Ship chainwide, as it did with curbside pickup service. Following a 16-club test in June 2020, the retailer brought curbside pickup to all of its nearly 600 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico.
“The piloting process for Scan & Ship will be similar,” Simmons said. “We’ll test, learn, iterate. Scan & Ship is currently in a minimum viable product phase, and we’ve launched it early in the development cycle at these three clubs so we can gather associate and member feedback quickly. This is going to be a game-changer for our members. So we’re working to make sure the experience is intuitive, that it’s discoverable in the right way in our clubs and that we have the right merchandise as part of the program.”