Sam's Club to offer free WiFi, apps and tech advice
The new in-store connectivity, provided by AT&T, isn't an attempt by Sam's Club to draw in webworkers but rather a tool for giving shoppers a real-world experience with the gadgets sold at Sam's Club as well as offering an easy method for price checking and research.
Most notably when the WiFi rollout is complete in November shoppers will be able to call up apps on IPTVs, Internet connected HDTVs, to see what it is like to stream Pandora or watch a streaming movie for a full user experience. In addition to adding an open Internet connection, the warehouse retailer is also adding full 1080P HD demos to the display HDTVs and will soon offer 3D TVs in all locations.
In addition to showing off the items it is selling the in-store WiFi will make it easy for shoppers to hop online with their smartphones and devices like the iPod Touch to compare prices, check out reviews and look up where a product is in its lifecycle without the need to search for a cell phone signal that can easily disappear inside the cavernous retail locations.
While the majority of shoppers are using social media to make buying decisions, there is an added benefit of heading home to do the research -- time to sleep on the purchase.
Though I have no hard data to back this up I know that the closer I am to the point of purchase, especially with the item in my cart, I am more dismissive of negative points noted in user reviews; even if in the back of my mind I know they may be an issue later. There's nothing wrong with researching in the store, but unless the purchase was already planned you may be better off heading home for additional research which will let you make a better decision and will help avoid buyer's remorse.
As part of this initiative Sam's Club will also be releasing an app for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices that will give Plus Members access to "eValues" that can be loaded directly to their shopping cards for savings at the cash register as well as providing increased training for sales staff and a Sam's Club Tech Experts service that offers support before and after the purchase.