Sam's Club to open new innovation center in Texas

FILE PHOTO: The sign outside the Sam's Club is seen in Bentonville, Arkansas June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warehouse chain Sam’s Club, a unit of Walmart Inc, said on Monday it will open a new store and innovation center in Dallas, Texas, which will be used to test technology before it is implemented in stores.

This will be separate from an internal research lab, called Walmart Labs, run by the Bentonville, Arkansas based retailer that focuses on developing new e-commerce applications and technology for the company.

The focus on opening more research labs and investments in that direction are the latest sign that Walmart is doubling down on making its stores better even as it competes to gain ground against rival Inc in the business of selling goods online.

Sam’s Club Now will be a 32,000 square feet store, which is a quarter of the size of an average store operated by the retailer. It will begin testing technology like electronic shelf labels that will automatically update prices and use 700 installed cameras to better manage inventory.

Sam’s Club Now will also allow shoppers to use the Scan and Go feature, a technology that facilitates faster checkouts, on its namesake mobile app.

That will enable customers to use voice search to locate items in the store, pick up their orders in an hour and create shopping lists, which can be automatically updated.

“Sam’s Club Now gives us one more avenue to develop, test and refine technology and features that will create new shopping experiences at scale,” John Furner, Sam’s Club Chief Executive, told reporters on a conference call.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in New York; Editing by Darren Schuettler