Why Sam's Club Could Soon Be More Customer-Friendly Than Costco

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  • Both Sam's Club and Costco are members-only warehouse clubs, so they have a lot of similarities.
  • Sam's is making a customer-friendly move that Costo hasn't embraced.
  • Sam's Club has begun to implement robotics in stores.

Sam's could have the edge when it comes to customer service. 

Sam's Club and Costco are both warehouse clubs that offer a wide variety of products for sale at discount prices. 

While there are many similarities between the two members-only stores, Sam's Club is making certain investments that Costco isn't. Those investments could potentially pay off in terms of enabling Sam's to offer better customer service going forward. 

Sam's is making an investment that could have a big payoff for customers

Like many other companies, including Starbucks and Amazon, Sam's Club has made the decision to invest in automation while Costco hasn't been as focused on harnessing new technologies. 

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

"Our initial goal at Sam's Club was to convert time historically spent on scrubbers to more member-focused activities," according to Todd Garner, Sam's Club vice president of in-club product management. "Our autonomous scrubbers have exceeded this goal. In addition to increasing the consistency and frequency of floor cleaning, intelligent scrubbers have empowered associates with critical insights," Garner said in a statement.  

The robotic floor scrubbers actually serve a dual purpose because not only do they clean the floors but they also can provide reports on inventory. A cloud-connected scanner on the scrubbers can capture data as the scrubber is moving around the club floor, providing insight into whether products are running low or are priced incorrectly.  

"At Sam's Club, we have a member-obsessed culture," Garner said. "These scrubbers help associates ensure products are out for sale, priced correctly, and findable, ultimately making it easier to directly engage with our members."

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

Should you become a Costco or Sam's member? 

While robotics technology could provide Sam's Club with a leg up, that's not necessarily justification by itself to join Sam's Club over Costco if you are choosing between the two. There are many factors to consider to help you make your choice of which club to become a member of. These include:

  • Whether you value access to Kirkland products, which are Costco's popular house brand. 
  • Which membership club offers more convenient locations relative to where you live.
  • Which offers the best prices on items you buy frequently so you can spend less on your credit cards when you shop at these warehouse stores. 

Still, good customer service is important, and Sam's Club's investment in robotics technology could make it easier for this warehouse store to offer that to you when you go shopping in the future. 

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