BJ’s Wholesale Club members will soon find something new when shopping at any of the chain’s nearly 240 locations — robots.
The retailer, earlier this week, said it is deploying robots several times a day to roam the aisles of its clubs autonomously. The robots will use computer vision to collect shelf data to ensure products are in-stock, shelved correctly, and accurately priced. The data collected by robots in real-time will give club team members the information they need to react more quickly to out-of-stocks, leading to better customer experiences and more sales.
Jeff Desroches, chief operations officer, said BJ’s would “continually improve” results by acting on data provided by the robots.
Robots are not the only thing on a roll at BJ’s.
The warehouse club chain last week reported that fourth-quarter net sales increased 13 percent. Comps, excluding gas, improved 8.7 percent. Club traffic and average transaction size were up.
“Our value prop continues to resonate, driving our market shares up and driving our members into our clubs,” said Bob Eddy, BJ’s president and CEO, on the company’s earnings call. “Membership fee income grew by eight percent year-over-year, topping $100 million for the first time in any quarter. And we hit our all-time high renewal rate of 90 percent for the year.”
BJ’s has benefited from its strength in the grocery category. Same-store grocery sales were up 12 percent in the last quarter.
“We offer 25 percent better pricing than our grocery competitors. And in exchange for that value, our members reward us with spend consolidation, loyalty, and retention,” Mr. Eddy told analysts. “In other words, they give us lifetime value. As a result of the tremendous advantages that our model provides and the value that it gives consumers, we continue to take share from less efficient forms of retail.”
BJ’s CEO says the chain has reaped benefits from providing added convenience for members through its digital investments.
“Convenience drives spend as digitally engaged members spend about 70 percent more with us than those members that only shop with us through traditional means,” said Mr. Eddy. “Our digitally enabled sales have grown from just two percent in fiscal 2018 to nine percent today. Our BOPIC and curbside pickup offerings have led this growth, now making up about half of our digital sales. And we are not done at nine percent.”
BJ’s plans to open about ten new clubs this year, including its first-ever locations in Alabama and Tennessee. The chain will have clubs operating in 20 states by the end of 2023.