Walmart Is Testing a Smaller, Cashierless Sam’s Club

Sam's Club location in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Amazon’s cashierless stores are about to get some competition — from Amazon’s archrival.

Walmart will soon open a Sam’s Club Now store in Dallas. The concept store measures about a quarter of the size of a regular Sam’s Club — or about 32,000 square feet — and will focus on selling fresh food and alcohol.

The idea of the new store evolved from the Sam’s Club Scan and Go app, which lets customers scan barcodes and pay directly within the app at its other stores.

Shoppers at the Dallas store will need to use a custom Sam’s Club Now app. It comes loaded with features, including shopping lists that auto-fill based on past purchases, an interactive store map that navigates shoppers along the “best route,” and augmented reality features that will give shoppers additional product information.

In the future, 700 cameras will help the store “manage inventory in new ways.”

The technology might make its way nationwide into Sam’s Club’s 597 US stores.

Employees will be called “member hosts,” and will help shoppers navigate the store and use the app.

“We’ve known for a long time our associates make the difference, and that won’t change just because shopping preferences evolve,” the company said.

Walmart (WMT) said the prototype store will help it “incubate, test and refine technologies to help define the future of retail.”

Amazon and Walmart compete fiercely for shoppers.

Walmart is boosting its in-store technology with automated vending machines to retrieve online orders, expanding its grocery business, and growing its e-commerce platform with buzzy brands. For Amazon, it hopes to grow its cashierless Amazon Go stores to 3,000 locations by 2021 and add benefits for Prime members at Whole Foods.

Walmart’s plan is working. Its online sales are expected to grow 40% this year, and the company recently said that digital growth will expand by 35% in 2019.

“They are one of the few incumbents that has effectively landed some counter punches on Amazon,” said Jason Goldberg, head of the commerce practice at digital agency SapientRazorfish, recently told CNN Business.