Walmart Testing Scan & Go Checkout Feature
Walmart is testing a new system that would allow customers to scan items with their iPhones and then quickly pay at a self-checkout counter.
According to Reuters, the "Scan & Go" feature won’t enable shoppers to pay with their phone, but by scanning items in the aisles, shoppers can quickly transfer their list to the self-checkout counter to pay in one quick step.
The trial, which is taking place at its supercenter in Rogers, AR, comes after Walmart indicated earlier this year it was adding more self-checkout lanes at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores to help reduce costs. At an investor conference in early March, Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer Charles Holley noted that about $12 million in cashier wages are accrued every second at its Walmart U.S. stores. At the time, some 1,600 of the more than 3,800 U.S. Walmart stores already had them. At Sam’s, about 80 out of 611 stores had them and another 220 Sam’s were expected to get them by the close of 2012.
But the other aim of Scan & Go is to reduce checkout times and congestion in stores. The Reuters report said Walmart’s slow checkout lanes are often-heard complaints on Twitter and other forums. Unlike others, Walmart doesn’t employ extra baggers to speed checkouts.
"This is probably the fourth technology that [the retail industry has] tried between shopping carts, RFID chips, the handheld scanners and now we’ve got smartphones," Paul Weitzel, managing partner at Willard Bishop, told Reuters. "We’re looking for ways to improve that experience as an industry."
Beyond the scanning option, Walmart could collect data on what customers buy and how long they shop, according to the Wall Street Journal. Coupons could also be sent in real time as they’re scanning.
"If you scan an item of peanut butter and immediately a two-dollar-off coupon pops up to buy a competing brand’s peanut butter, Walmart can change customers’ behaviors right there in the aisle," Evan Schuman, Editor-in-Chief of StorefrontBacktalk.com, told the Journal.
Walmart’s app already lets shoppers create lists, find aisle locations for items, check price or product availability, and print coupons.
Scanning to create checkout lists is still rare in U.S. retail. Shop & Stop’s Scan It! App, which is tied to the grocer’s loyalty program and offers exclusive offers, works similarly. Apple’s EasyPay feature allows shoppers to purchase products in store without interacting with any salespeople.
In another route to reduce checkout wait times and replace cashiers, Nordstrom, Penney and Apple are equipping floor associates with payment-enabled tablets.
- Exclusive: Walmart tests iPhone app checkout feature – Reuters
- Retailers introduce indoor navigation in apps – USA Today
- Many bet we’ll pay with smartphone – USA Today
What do you think of Walmart’s “Scan & Go” feature? What are the benefits as well as possible pitfalls of enabling shoppers to self-scan merchandise? How does this system compare to other emerging scan/pay options?