- Sam's Club is resuming sampling at all of its nearly 600 U.S. locations, the Walmart-owned membership warehouse chain announced on Tuesday.
- The retailer will initially restrict the program, known as Taste & Tips, to weekends, limit quantities and employ new safety measures, like sealed samples.
- Sam's Club's decision to bring back its sampling program follows a similar announcement last week from rival Costco.
The return of sampling at Sam's Club represents a key step for the membership-based retailer as it looks to return to normal operations after having to halt the popular program last year because of the pandemic.
In addition to offering samples at stations in its warehouses, Sam's Club is trying other ways to distribute tastes to shoppers. As it moves ahead with efforts to attract shoppers to its stores, the retailer plans to offer samples to members as they check out, visit the customer service desk or pick up online orders at the curb.
The retailer, which has long relied on sampling to help it gauge shopper reaction to products it sells, will also offer tastes of private label foods from a food truck set to visit Sam's Club locations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas during the next few weeks. The chain will use the "Member's Mark Summer Eats Food Truck" to distribute samples of items like Angus beef cheeseburgers, baked beans with brisket and double dipped mini ice cream bars.
"Over the past year, our members’ shopping behaviors have evolved. Today, more than ever, members want to do more than just shop when they come to our clubs — they want to have an experience," Sam's Club Chief Merchandising Officer Megan Crozier said in a statement.
Like other retailers, Sam's Club responded to the pandemic by bolstering its efforts to help people avoid entering its locations to shop. In March, the retailer introduced a "Shop from Your Car" service for seniors and others at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and last June, the retailer rolled out curbside pickup chainwide.
Sam's Club's approach to restoring sampling differs from the path Costco is taking. While Sam's Club has elected to bring Taste & Tips back chainwide, albeit only on certain weekends at first, Costco is ramping up its sampling program in waves, starting with about 170 of its roughly 550 locations.
BJ's Wholesale Club, which also halted in-store sampling last year, has not yet said if or when it will bring back sampling to its retail locations.