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Sam’s Club pilots mobile check-in as it revamps Club Pickup

Sam’s Club is piloting a new mobile check-in option at select stores across the nation as it expands its Club Pickup service, which aims to undercut competition from other warehouse retailers by offering convenience.

Sam’s Club, the only United States-based warehouse retailer to offer a pickup option, enables members to order thousands of household items at the click of a button, as well as create and save shopping lists for streamlined purchasing in the future. In a bid to ramp up mobile offerings, the brand is also testing new technology to enhance order accuracy in select locations nationwide.

“Club Pickup is part of our focus on integrating our physical clubs and digital solutions to give members the opportunity to choose when, where and how they want to shop with us,” said Carrie Foster Moore, spokeswoman for Sam’s Club, Bentonville, AR. “This service is a great example of finding new convenient ways to provide added value to our members beyond savings on merchandise.

“In this instance, it’s a convenience that can add a significant amount of time back into a member’s day.”

Easier shopping
In large warehouses such as Sam’s Club, consumers can feel overwhelmed at the amount of aisles and products facing their grocery shopping goals. By integrating mobile technology and an in-store pickup option, customers may save invaluable time browsing and standing in long cashier lines.

Members may now use the revamped Club Pickup option to place their orders via the Sam’s Club mobile application and have them ready upon arrival at the designated bricks-and-mortar location. This tool is especially useful for convenience store owners, who may wish to pay for weekly orders with the tap of a button.

The mobile check-in option, which is being piloted at certain locations, enables members to use their smartphone to notify store employees when they have arrived to retrieve their orders.

According to 2014 research from The Futures Company, 71 percent of business owners and families shop for essentials each week, with the average grocery trip taking approximately an hour. Sam’s Club aims to streamline the amount of time consumers spend shopping via the Club Pickup feature, so that they will have more time to dedicate to other tasks and still keep their homes or stores fully stocked.

“The mobile check in pilot for Club Pickup allows a Sam’s Club member to ‘check in’ via our mobile app from anywhere, indicating they are en route to the club to get their Club Pickup order,” Ms. Foster Moore said. “Once a member enters the Sam’s Club parking lot, our mobile app recognizes their location and an associate prepares to deliver their order.

“Members can bypass the in-club kiosk and head directly to the pickup area for their purchases. Alternatively, in locations with drive through or curbside pilots, the member can remain in their car and pull up directly to the Club Pickup door.”

More convenience
Sam’s Club will likely be able to undercut some of its competition from brands including BJ’s and Costco by offering members the utmost convenience of shopping when, where and how they prefer to.

Members who wish to take advantage of Club Pickup may visit the branded app or Web site,, to select their nearest location and ideal pickup time. An employee will have the order ready to go as early as the following day.

Customers may opt to be alerted when their order is fulfilled by text message or by email.

New features included in the revamping are new kiosks for consumers to check in with at Sam’s Club locations, the ability to build shopping lists for easier reorders and substitute options for discontinued or out-of-stock products.

The brand is also planning to roll out a pre-pay option online this year in all clubs, alongside the ability to appoint another individual to pick up orders on behalf of the member.

Sam’s Club has been attempting to bolster its mobile strategy within the last year, even turning to social media for extended consumer outreach.

This past January, Sam’s Club ramped up efforts to drive membership sales to its retail warehouse clubs in 2015 by offering consumers a $20 gift card usable on mobile devices upon enrollment, with an additional $5 for those who shared the promotion on Facebook (see story).

“Nearly half the orders that come from the Sam’s Club mobile app are for Club Pickup, so we know that it’s quickly becoming a popular time-saver for families, households and business owners,” Ms. Foster Moore said. “Millions of our members are using their phone to shop Sam’s Club within and beyond the club doors, so we are constantly looking for ways to maximize our mobile app to meet our members’ needs and save them time.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York