Can Sam’s Club’s new app really cut tire shopping down to 5 minutes?

Discussion
Source: Sam's Club
Jun 18, 2019
Matthew Stern

Customers shopping for tires at Sam’s Club could find faster, more accurate recommendations from store staff thanks to a new app the employees in automotive will have on their tablets.

In July, associates at Sam’s Tire and Battery Center will begin carrying tablets loaded with the Sam’s Garage app, according to a press release. The app reportedly will allow associates to help visitors select the right tires in only five minutes, reducing the average time from the 30 minutes typical of the old, desk and catalog-based setup.

The app will also give associates immediate access to customer-specific information, such a recent purchases, type of car, tire rotation schedule and other facts. It will also let them know which windshield wipers and battery are required for the automobile (listing in-store stock first). Sam’s has plans to expand the functionality of the app beyond just tire buying to improve the shopping experience throughout the Tire and Battery Center.

Studies have indicated that customer-facing employees find themselves to be more effective in their roles when armed with appropriate sales floor technology like tablets. Retailers, however, have been slow to adopt such solutions due to costs and concerns over misuse. In specialty areas like automotive, some also question whether technology will bolster the expertise of store staff or if it will enable retailers to bring on workers with less expertise.

Source: Sam’s Club

Purchasing cars and car-related products and services can be particularly intimidating for customers, and others in the retail world have likewise begun trying to streamline the experience.

Last year, tire brand Goodyear announced the launch of a five-store pilot of its new store concept, Roll by Goodyear. Roll is a tire shopping showroom decorated more like an Instagrammable ice cream parlor than a traditional tire shop, and it has been designed to give customers easy, omnichannel options for tire installation.

Walmart, owner of Sam’s Club, has also launched a few automotive-related initiatives in its main stores over the past few years, such as a CarSaver store-within-a-store concept in 250 locations geared to easing the car buying process. Walmart has also developed a partnership with Advanced Auto Parts to bring car shoppers information online.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is it for retailers to use associate-facing technology to help speed the sales process along? Is there a chance that reliance on technology could reduce the personal touch that some retailers are famous for, and how might retailers balance personal expert staff recommendations with app-based ones?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Combining assistance from well-trained sales associates with good technology to support them is clearly the best combination."
"For objective-based, non-emotional products like tires, these apps are a perfect fit."
"Clienteling in a tire shop? Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Seems like an absolute no-brainer to me."

Join the Discussion!

6 Comments on "Can Sam’s Club’s new app really cut tire shopping down to 5 minutes?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Combining assistance from well-trained sales associates with good technology to support them is clearly the best combination. To answer the question posed, think of this; could a total neophyte associate with a strong portable app do as good a selling job as a knowledgeable associate with the same app?

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Clienteling in a tire shop? Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Seems like an absolute no-brainer to me. The vast majority of consumers only pay attention to their tires when they have to replace them. How many of us know the size tires our car requires, or the recommended air pressure, even? Giving associates handheld access to those huge product databases combined with individual customer history/needs is virtually guaranteed to lift sales – and improve the showroom experience for everyone.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

There are so many ways mobile technology can help associates better perform their jobs. Speeding up the sales process is one of them. Similar technology can also boost employee engagement, promote collaboration, and provide more dynamic, trigger-based training. Like it or not, as the worlds of digital and physical collide, our mobile devices are now an extension of ourselves. In that way, mobile technology for store staff actually allows for more personal connection — associates will feel more deeply connected with their employer and more able to do their jobs — which will translate to more meaningful and productive connections with shoppers. Sales associates previously had to step behind a desk and behind a screen to access certain competencies in helping customers. Now, device-in-hand, associates will interact with shoppers on the selling floor to enhance service and drive sales.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Retail industry thought leader
7 months 3 days ago

The tire buying decision is based on a series of several factors and knowing those factors can quickly narrow down the choices to just a few tires. This is a perfect scenario for a product recommendation tool like the Sam’s Garage app. Ten years ago we created a similar tool for TBC that included a mobile device that scanned the vehicle’s VIN to auto-populate many of the fields to quickly identify the “good, better, best” solutions based on the vehicle’s specs.

For objective-based, non-emotional products like tires, these apps are a perfect fit. Even for personal products, like apparel, product recommendation apps are helpful to narrow down the choices. With additional persona information and customer context (preferences, past purchases and browsing history) sales associates can add their own style advice to the mobile recommendations to make it more personable.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

The answer to that depends on the products being sold. Unlike like many purchases, the Sam’s tire app is not governed by fashion or other emotionally driven considerations. It is very likely to know more about what tires the car needs that the owner of the car. Add to this a knowledge clerk and you have a winning combination for both Sam’s and the purchaser.

James Ray
Guest

I fully believe an app can help consumers make the best decision quickly on what tires to buy, but the problem will be is that tire retailers actually make more money by selling you more expensive tires than you need plus additional cost services (tire re-balancing any time during life of tire), warranties (puncture & blowout), etc. Upselling the customer takes time and requires skill, the app likely won’t do that as well as skilled humans without it being obvious the app is padding the retailer’s wallet.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Combining assistance from well-trained sales associates with good technology to support them is clearly the best combination."
"For objective-based, non-emotional products like tires, these apps are a perfect fit."
"Clienteling in a tire shop? Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Seems like an absolute no-brainer to me."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is it that sales floor associates carrying department-specific apps will become a regular part of the retail shopping experience within the next five years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...