AI-powered convenience: The evolution of Scan & Go

Staff writer

Jan. 31, 2024 | 3 min read


Discover how Scan & Go gives Sam’s Club members a seamless checkout experience

Scan & Go

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Generative AI have become foundational to our ability to build innovative experiences and ensure our members can get the items they want, where they want them and when they want them. Sam's Club aims to be an AI-enabled digital enterprise. As a membership warehouse with curated SKUs and closed-loop membership data, we know who our customers are and how they shop. This positions us uniquely to leverage AI to improve member experience, increase associate productivity and drive business growth.

Sam’s Club's Scan & Go app is a prime example of how we’re always looking to optimize shopping experiences with AI. Members use their phones to scan items as they shop and pay for them within the app, and then show their digital receipt to an associate on their way out the door—skipping the checkout line entirely. 

Its evolution

We first introduced Scan & Go as a standalone app in 2016, and then merged it with the Sam’s Club app in 2018. Over the years, Scan & Go has evolved to include a multitude of helpful features that are removing friction as our members move through our clubs. Now, with more than 9.6 million downloads and rising usage, more members are skipping checkout lines than ever.

The image shows a woman using Scan & Go app to scan the barcode of a product on her phone inside a Sam’s Club

Our teams are continuously working to improve the app. Listening to member feedback assists us in determining how Scan & Go should evolve, including future features they would like to see, and more clearly understand what’s working well. Some of these features have included more mobile payment options, such as EBT SNAP, which requires a robust solution that can handle internal checkout services and interactions with the payment processors, and changes to the Sam’s Cash rewards that have streamlined how users receive and redeem rewards.

We’ve also expanded where Scan & Go can be used to include Sam’s Club fuel stations, cafés and how it can be used in clubs.

Members can also view the running total of all the items in their cart, as they shop, so they can be mindful of their budget. Further, as they’re checking out, they might receive a prompt suggesting items they may have forgotten—which is informed by AI models that understand members’ shopping preferences over time.

All these features are aimed at making Scan & Go easy-to-use, accessible and seamless. And now, we’re taking the tech one step further.

Exiting clubs is getting easier

We’re using AI, and more specifically computer vision, to streamline how our members exit our clubs after they’ve paid for their items, adding even greater convenience by saving them precious time.

Previously, members had to queue at the exit area for receipt verification, which could result in wait times during peak store hours. With the new seamless exit experience, members can simply proceed to the exit area with a Sam's Club bold, blue archway without stopping to have their receipt or cart scanned by an associate.

The image shows the top view of products in a shopping cart being scanned by the seamless exit technology at a Sam’s Club store.

A glimpse into the seamless exit experience, powered by AI and computer vision technology.

As they walk, our exit technology captures images of carts and analyzes them to identify what the items within are—from a large pack of paper towels to smaller items like boxes of cereal and rotisserie chickens—and how many of each item there are, to verify all items have been accurately scanned. The speed and accuracy are unparalleled, taking mere seconds to scan carts.

As the exit technology processes the millions of items that pass through our clubs, the AI algorithms, models and computer vision will only continue to improve, leading to better product identification and detection. We’re currently piloting this exit tech in 10 clubs, with plans to rapidly expand to all clubs by the end of the year.  So far, more than half of our members at the pilot locations are trying—and enjoying—the benefits of the new experience.

Exit technology is a natural extension of how we’re using digital innovation to enhance the shopping experience and we're proud to be the first retailer to deploy it at scale.