Why Sam’s Club may soon be friendlier than Costco

A man pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of a warehouse store.

Image source: Getty Images

Sam’s might have the edge when it comes to customer service.

Key points

  • Sam’s Club and Costco are both members-only warehouse clubs, so they have many similarities.
  • Sam’s makes a friendly gesture that Costo didn’t adopt.
  • Sam’s Club has started implementing robotics in stores.

Both Sam’s Club and Costco are warehouse clubs that offer a wide variety of products for sale at discounted prices.

While there are many similarities between the two members-only stores, Sam’s Club makes some investments that Costco does not. These investments could potentially pay off in enabling Sam’s to provide better customer service in the future.

Sam’s makes an investment that could pay off big for customers

Like many other companies, including Starbucks and Amazon, Sam’s Club made the decision to invest in automation, while Costco hasn’t focused so much on leveraging new technologies.

Sam’s Club has already started implementing robotics with great success. Specifically, the store has started using robotic floor scrubbers. While this may not seem like a big deal that would make a big difference to customers, it may actually have more of an impact than you think. The more tasks like this that can be automated, the more time staff members can spend helping customers.

“Our original goal at Sam’s Club was to convert time spent on scrubbers into more member-focused activities,” according to Todd Garner, vice president of club product management at Sam’s Club. “Our autonomous scrubbers exceeded that goal. In addition to increasing the consistency and frequency of floor cleaning, the smart scrubbers gave associates critical information,” Garner said in a statement.

Robotic floor scrubbers actually serve a dual purpose, as they not only clean floors, but they can also provide inventory reports. A cloud-connected scanner on scrubbers can capture data as the scrubber moves through the club floor, helping to identify if products are low or incorrectly priced.

“At Sam’s Club, we have a member-obsessed culture,” Garner said. “These scrubbers help associates ensure products are on sale, priced right, and findable, which ultimately makes it easier to engage directly with our members.”

Since Sam’s has become an early adopter of this kind of robotic technology and its parent company, Walmart, has been aggressively testing other new applications for tech innovations, the store could soon have a major advantage over Costco. when it comes to ensuring shelves are stocked and staff members are available to offer support to customers in the store – among other things.

Should you join Costco or Sam?

While robotic technology can give Sam’s Club a boost, it’s not necessarily a justification on its own to join Sam’s Club over Costco if you’re choosing between the two. There are many factors to consider to help you decide which club you want to join. These include:

  • Whether you enjoy access to Kirkland products, which are Costco’s popular private label.
  • Which membership club offers more convenient locations relative to where you live.
  • Who offers the best prices on items you buy frequently so you can spend less on your credit cards when shopping at these outlet stores.

Still, good customer service is important, and Sam’s Club’s investment in robotic technology could make it easier for this outlet store to offer it to you when you shop in the future.

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