"Sam's Club Now" Will Open with No Cashiers and Mobile Scan App

Automation is everywhere: Manufacturing jobs are being lost to automation via robots. Retail jobs are being lost to automation via online shopping. Service jobs are being lost to automation via self-serve kiosks, even in restaurants, where touch-screen order interfaces are popping up where waitstaff used to be.

Operators have been replaced with automated directories. Bank tellers have been replaced with ATMs and online banking. Cashier jobs are being lost to self-checkouts. Opportunities to make one's living as an instructor — a piano teacher, say — have precipitously dwindled with the advent of online (and often free) instruction videos.

If you've visited a construction site lately, you may have seen field clearances and leveling being done by a grounded drone within marked boundaries — a sort of large-scale Roomba for the great outdoors.

Delivery drones are coming. And self-piloting vehicles will destroy entire sectors: Trucking, municipal driving jobs (garbage collection, street sweeping, leaf collection, snow plowing, public transportation), and driving services (taxis, Uber, Lyft).

If politicians talk about automation at all, it's usually couched within a framework which suggests that widespread automation looms in our future.

But the future is now.

Sarah Perez at TechCrunch: Walmart's Test Store for New Technology, Sam's Club Now, Opens Next Week in Dallas.
Walmart's warehouse club, Sam's Club, is preparing to open the doors at a new Dallas area store that will serve as a testbed for the latest in retail technology. Specifically, the retailer will test out new concepts like mobile checkout, an Amazon Go-like camera system for inventory management, electronic shelf labels, wayfinding technology for in-store navigation, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence-infused shopping, among other things.

...Like other Sam's Club stores, consumers will need a membership to shop at Sam's Club Now. But how they shop will be remarkably different.

Instead of cashiers, the store is staffed with "Member Hosts," who will act more like concierges, the company says.

And instead of scanning items at a point-of-sale cashier stand, customers will use a specialized Sam's Club Now mobile app.

The app leverages Sam's Club existing "Scan & Go" technology, which is used today across its retail locations to help speed up checkout. With the current Scan & Go mobile app, shoppers can opt to scan items as they place them in their cart, then pay right on their phone. At Sam's Club Now, however, the use of mobile scan-and-pay is required, not optional.
Some regular, non-member Walmart locations are already testing the no-cashiers principle, either altogether or during low-traffic store hours, but requiring shoppers to use their own mobile phones to scan items is new.

Because Sam's Club requires a membership, Walmart already knows what Sam's Club shoppers purchase — but if the checkout app technology is rolled out to non-member Walmart stores, then it will be impossible to shop there without attaching every single purchase to your identity, thus informing Walmart about each item you buy.

That fundamentally alters the shopping experience and privacy options for shoppers.

Right now, if you don't carry and use a retailer's discount fob and if you pay in cash, your purchases aren't linked to your identity. Soon that may no longer be an option.

Because the Walton family doesn't have enough fucking money already, they need to make even more money by automating their stores and selling your data.

And, of course, because they're in a desperate battle with Amazon, which is trying to destroy the remnants of what Walmart already destroyed.

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