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AI tech that gets Sam’s Club customers out the door faster will be in all locations soon

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First unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, the AI technology that confirms purchases is slated to be implemented at all of Sam’s Club’s nearly 600 stores by the end of the year.

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Sam’s Club has begun rolling out artificial intelligence-powered technology at select locations that confirms members’ purchases as they exit the stores.

The new verification technology, which replaces physical receipt checks, has so far been deployed at 120 Sam’s Club locations across the United States. The Walmart-owned bulk retailer said in a Tuesday press release that more than half of the customers have used the option at stores where the technology is available, which has helped members leave clubs 23% faster.

First unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, the AI technology is slated to be implemented at all of Sam’s Club’s nearly 600 stores by the end of the year.

The retailer is far from the only company with designs on integrating artificial intelligence capabilities into its shopping experiences. But Sam’s Club claimed Tuesday that the rollout “represents the largest-scale implementation of member-facing AI-powered technology in the retail industry.”

“I’m incredibly proud of the innovation and dedication of our team to deploy this member experience technology,” Todd Garner, Sam’s Club chief product officer, said in a statement.

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How Sam’s Club’s AI tech works

The AI technology is a new way for Sam’s Club to confirm its members have paid for the items in their shopping cart without requiring them to wait in a line for an employee to manually check their receipts.

“Members continue to say they want a faster and more convenient shopping experience and consistently rated the wait times at the exit – especially during busy periods – as a pain point in the shopping experience,” Sam’s Club said.

The new feature also blends with Sam’s Club Scan and Go app, which allows shoppers to ring up and pay for their own orders as they fill their carts. After shoppers complete their checkout at a register or with the app, they can exit through blue gateways armed with cameras and scanners that take an inventory of the products in their carts and compare them to their orders.

The technology also frees up exit greeters once tasked with checking receipts to complete other tasks and help customers in other ways, Sam’s Club said.

How other stores are using artificial intelligence

There are a few other retailers who have scan-and-go apps, where customers scan their items as they shop and then pay in the app.

Amazon has also been working to expand its “Just Walk Out” technology at its stores and third-party retailers like airports and sports stadiums. The technology, which debuted in 2018, uses artificial intelligence, cameras and some sensors to enable shoppers to grab what they want and leave without stopping at a cash register.

The Just Walk Out feature allows customers to walk into a store using Amazon One, a credit or debit card, or a mobile wallet app to shop for items and leave. Cameras and sensors on shelves work with artificial intelligence to see what customers take or put back in order to automatically charge them for their purchases. 

While Amazon said it is ditching the technology at grocery stores like Whole Foods, it’s still in use at Amazon’s 140 third-party stores with plans to double this year.

Contributing: Betty Lin-Fisher

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at elagatta@gannett.com

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