Big buys, small lines: How Sam’s Club’s AI-powered technology simplifies our members’ exit experience

Staff writer

April. 30, 2024 | 3 min read

The image shows two associates smiling and standing in front of the blue exit archways inside a Sam’s Club store.

At Sam’s Club, we are constantly seeking new ways to alleviate member pain points and provide the most convenient shopping experience.

We announced at CES 2024 a new AI and computer vision-enabled experience that revolutionizes the exit process by eliminating the need for manual receipt checks. This new technology aims to reduce wait times and congestion at the exit. And we’re already seeing results, with all members leaving the club 23% faster.

It’s one thing to enable this kind of tech in a small footprint, and for a handful of items—a small snack, a book or maybe something as big as a box of cereal. But at Sam’s Club, we’re doing it at scale. For our members, the experience is seamless; they simply walk through the two exit archways.

Behind the scenes, a sophisticated layering of smart hardware and software powers this, making the verification of receipts and exit process a breeze.

Discover how the AI-powered exit technology at Sam’s Club gives members a seamless checkout experience

Here’s how it works: 

1. First, multiple cameras capture multiple images of carts as they pass underneath the archway  

2. Next, our computer vision models interpret the visual information and detect items within the cart 

3. Additional computer vision models and algorithms extract visual features from item images such as sizes, shapes, colors, brand labels and logos, before cross-referencing this data with tens of thousands of products listed in our inventory systems 

4. When the items are identified, supplementary algorithms are applied to intelligently match the cart to an outstanding receipt in the club 

5. The system then compares the items in the cart to the receipt and sends the information to our exit associate in real time. The entire process takes a matter of seconds

The image shows the top-view of items in a shopping cart being scanned by Sam’s Club’s exit technology.

Exit technology scanning items in members' carts

To reach the highest levels of accuracy, we continuously train our computer vision models using millions of images of Sam’s Club items in various positions and lighting. This enables our systems to recognize items regardless of how they are positioned in carts.

The image is a screenshot of the in-app verification of a pack of flavored soda. Product details like the product ID and price are displayed. There are two buttons with the text: “Incorrect item”; “Unpaid item”.

Exit associates verify members' carts

We are constantly adding new items across our nearly 600 clubs, so it’s critical for our AI to continue to learn and improve. Our systems can flag new inventory for labeling, helping our team identify and train models on this data.

Pioneering innovation and convenience

More than half of our members are already enjoying the new seamless exit experience at our more than 120 locations where this technology is already deployed. This translates to all members leaving the club faster, and we expect these percentages to increase as our system becomes even more advanced and can handle even more complicated scenarios.

This innovation builds on Sam’s Club’s existing technology solutions that provide a better member experience, such as Scan & Go™, which the company believes is the most used mobile application in a retailer and/or restaurant in the U.S..

At Sam’s Club, we are committed to delivering new levels of convenience for our members, from entry to exit. We’re proud to be the first retailer to deploy this technology at exit and at scale and use digital innovation to provide members with a more convenient shopping experience.