TECHNOLOGY

Sam’s Club testing new delivery programs

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A warehouse club chain is making it easier for business customers to receive their online orders.

Sam’s Club is testing a business delivery program in Dallas. Besides enabling business owners to place orders online, new services offer members a choice in how they receive merchandise.

One option is next-day delivery, a service that drops merchandise right on the member’s doorstep. Members pay a flat rate, and no order minimum is required. A reorder tool assists repeat customers in choosing their preferred date and time of delivery. First-time shoppers are eligible for a $25 e-gift card with their first delivery.

For those members who prefer to forego delivery, Sam’s Club also offers Club Pickup to its Plus, Business and Savings members. This option enables members to retrieve online orders the next day at their preferred club location.

To make this process even easier, the warehouse club retailer is extending its drive-thru service. As members arrive at their preferred club, they check in, and pull into the drive-thru area where a Sam’s Club associate will bring their order right to their vehicle.

These options also augment Sam’s Club Scan & Go program, a mobile app that allows in-store shoppers to scan UPC codes on items as they load them into their cart. When members are ready to check out, they pay directly on their phone from anywhere in the club, bypassing the checkout line.

“These services allow Sam’s Club to deliver on convenience and save time for our busy members,” said Laura Ladd Poff, spokeswoman for Sam’s Club. “By offering Business Delivery, and expanded options like Club Pickup and Scan & Go, members are able to shop the way they want and save time and money.”

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TECHNOLOGY

How generational differences influence path to purchase

BY Marianne Wilson

Despite plenty of generational differences, there is one thing that shoppers of all ages put a priority on.

Customer service ranks as the number one factor that affects the purchasing decision across all age groups, according to research compiled by Alliance Data businesses. The research data was used to compile an infograph that introduces four personas of shoppers who were raised during different generations, and demonstrates how they shop. See the infographic here.

Some highlights from the research include:

• Since millennials came of age during the social media boom it is no surprise that they are more trusting than the generations before them of a stranger’s online reviews or a retailer’s recommendation — even if it didn’t completely satisfy their needs in the end.

• Gen Xers live extremely busy lives as they try to balance family, work and their own commitments, which is why 40% of them value a fast checkout experience that can allow them to continue moving.

• Baby Boomers were born during a time when an infinite number of products were available for purchase, so they never felt a deep connection with any specific brand or product.

• The Silent Generation, which grew up during The Great Depression, are very prudent with their purchases and prefer to shop brands they know and trust.

"The key takeaway for retailers is that all generations ranked customer service first over payment security, brand interaction and promotions when it comes to factors that affect their purchase decisions," said Rodney Davenport, VP of strategic insights at Alliance Data. "While technology and innovation are important, success in retail still comes down to understanding who your customers are, being responsive to their needs, and catering to the way they like to shop.”

The data provided in the infographic was compiled from research conducted Alliance Data, AllianceData Card Services, Loyalty One, and Epsilon.

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TECHNOLOGY

Will Amazon fund an IoT network?

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A potential partnership could help Amazon enter the wireless business — a move that could further streamline its digital services.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Charlie Ergen, CEO of Dish, reportedly may be considering partnering on a potential wireless project. With Amazon’s financial backing, sources said the team could create an Internet of Things (IoT) network, reported the Wall Street Journal.

This network could be a boon for Amazon on many levels. According to sources in the report, the network could become a way to offer Prime members wireless connectivity or phone plans. It could also support a one-way broadcast signal for its Prime video on Dish's airwaves.

The potential network could also benefit Amazon from an internal perspective. For example, the web-based IoT network could potentially power things like Amazon delivery drones, according to ReCode.

This is not Amazon’s first collaboration with Dish. In May, the two companies struck deals allowing some Dish customers to control their set-top boxes through artificial intelligence assistant Alexa on Amazon's Echo speakers. The service makes Dish streaming-TV apps available on Amazon Fire devices.

Despite the previous collaboration, currently there is no deal pending on the IoT concept, and it’s also unclear if the companies will move forward with the initiative, according to the Journal.

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