Hobbit Business Review

Sam’s Club Will Stop Checking Receipts at the Door — and Instead Use AI to Snap Photos of Your Shopping Cart

Key Takeaways

  • Sam’s Club is ditching physical receipt checks for an AI shopping-cart scan.

  • The tech is already in place in 10 US stores and set to expand nationwide this year.

  • Waiting for receipt checks at the exit has long been a source of frustration for shoppers.

Sam’s Club’s new gateways are equipped with cameras and sensors that capture images of the shopper’s cart and process them with computer vision.

Shopping trips to Sam’s Club are about to get a little shorter — at the exit, at least.

The Walmart-owned warehouse club said Tuesday it’s ditching physical receipt checks for an artificial-intelligence-powered scan of members’ shopping carts as they roll out of the store.

“Eliminating even the few seconds it takes to scan a receipt at the exit door is well worth it,” Sam’s Club US’s chief merchant, Megan Crozier, said in the company’s keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

During the presentation, Walmart played a video demonstration of the tech portraying two versions of the same shopper. The tech-savvy shopper teaches her less-savvy counterpart to scan items with the Sam’s Club mobile app and pay on it.

As the shoppers leave the store, the less tech-savvy shopper says: “Wait, you have to show your receipt.” Her counterpart passes through a large blue gateway to scan her items.

The gateway is equipped with cameras and sensors that capture images of the shopper’s cart, recognize individual items, and verify the purchase — all in real-time.

AI recognizing items in a Sam's Club shopping cart.

“It’s one thing to enable this easy kind of exit tech in a small-footprint store for a handful of items,” Crozier said, throwing shade at competitors’ tech, such as Amazon’s Just Walk Out. “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.”

The tech is installed at 10 stores, and the company says all its nearly 600 US warehouses will have it by the end of this year.

While receipt checks are a fact of life for shoppers at warehouse clubs such as Sam’s and Costco, they’re a source of frustration for many, especially when stores are busy and exit lines are long.

Other tech, including the in-app scan-and-pay feature, has found its way into Walmart stores after being first introduced and tested with Sam’s Club shoppers, so it stands to reason that this latest innovation could eventually do the same.

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