- Sam's Club announced the arrival of "Ask Sam," an app that allows associates to access information by asking questions via their mobile phones, according to a press release emailed to our sister site Retail Dive. Associates can ask about work schedules along with item locations and availability. The app can also help associates predict how many fresh items to prepare for the day.
- After an initial launch in March, the app has rolled out to all Sam's Club store associates in nearly 600 stores nationwide. Sam's Club engineers designed the app with speed in mind, the company's release noted, and the responses from "Ask Sam" get more accurate the more associates ask questions.
- The warehouse club also released "Sam's Garage," an iPad app for Tire & Battery Center associates to use to identify available options for a customer's tire needs. The app tracks member service history at Sam's tire shops across the country. The company states the app will cut down how long it takes a customer to shop for tires from 30 minutes to under five minutes.
While there's plenty of talk about mobile apps for customers, apps for associates may do more to merge the convenience of online shopping with in-store experiences. "Ask Sam" allows associates to get more information without having to walk away from a customer to ask someone else, or without leading that customer to another department only to discover an item is out of stock. That personal experience may motivate customers to come back to shop at a brick-and-mortar location.
"Ask Sam" and "Sam's Garage" are new for Sam's Club, but parent company Walmart is no stranger to associate-focused apps. In December, Walmart introduced an app for employees that enables them to complete orders from Walmart.com for pickup or home delivery. Associates can print a receipt for customers to take to any cash register for payment. That app potentially prevents a customer who can't find what they want from leaving the store without making a purchase.
The Sam's Club app may also ease some of the struggles of tracking and maintaining employee schedules, a major pain point for associates across retail. Walmart announced the adoption of a scheduling app last year to increase predictability of associate schedules with additional flexibility.