Check out KC location for Sam’s Club efficiency initiative

Sam’s Club cashiers could become an endangered species if an expanded test of a payment platform at a new club in Kansas City is embraced by members.

Sam’s Club opened a new club in the Kansas City market this week and one of the most intriguing features is a new check out system that involves what Sam’s calls, "convertible registers." The name stems from the fact that the register can either be staffed by a cashier or used as a self checkout. The new Sam’s, the eighth club in the Kansas City market, is the first to feature the convertible registers at every checkout. The net effect is every checkout lane is open all the time because members will have the option to check themselves out if staffed lanes are too long or they simply prefer the self service method.

Sam’s has rapidly added conventional self checkout systems to clubs this year and they are now present in about half of Sam’s 600 locations and are said to be enjoying strong member acceptance. It was only recently that Sam’s began experimenting with the convertible checkout configuration that was touted as a productivity enhancement to financial analysts last week at Walmart’s investor conference.

The move is in response to member feedback on increasing the speed of the checkout process, according to Sam’s Club. As club managers listen to member feedback at the Kansas City location, Sam’s said it will be able to more accurately determine when and where to expand access to the convertible register innovation in 2013. Broader application of the convertible option would lessen Sam’s need for cashiers and presumably result in labor savings over time.