How Sam’s Club uses AI to get pumpkin pie to holiday tables

by | Oct 26, 2022 | Technology

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When a member of one of the 600 Sam’s Clubs across the U.S. wants a fresh pumpkin pie to serve this holiday season, Vinod Bidarkoppa, SVP and chief technology officer at Sam’s Club, wants to make sure it’s on the shelf and ready to go. 

Unlike mass-market retailers — like Sam’s Club’s parent company Walmart — satisfying and retaining members is the most important strategy for a membership-only warehouse chain. That’s why Sam’s Club has steadily increased its artificial intelligence (AI) efforts, based on connected intelligence. Since Bidarkoppa joined the company in February 2020, he said his team has worked hard to figure out how to make sure the right assortment of products gets into the right stores at the right time — especially during the peak holiday season.

“With accurate AI forecasting, last year we sold enough pies to cover the length of 450 football fields while staying ahead of customer demand and reducing food waste,” Bidarkoppa told VentureBeat. “If we have actually delighted our members and every member who wanted a pumpkin pie got it, that’s a victory for us.”

Sam’s Club needs to understand demand and inventory

The journey of Sam’s Club’s pumpkin pies begins by determining how many pies members will buy across the 600 clubs — and, therefore, how many need to be ordered from suppliers and shipped to stores. 

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