Are Target and Walmart customers dreaming of a mobile checkout Christmas?

Discussion
Photo: Target
Nov 02, 2018
George Anderson

Target and Walmart are so me-too. This week, the two retail giants made separate announcements that mobile checkout technology is now available in each chain’s stores across the country. Now, customers looking to avoid long checkout lines in either’s stores can find an associate equipped with a handheld device to expedite the process.

The retailers’ press announcements were, as you might expect, very similar since the chains are using identical technology. The biggest difference, based on the press releases issue by Target and Walmart, was the name each company gave to the mobile POS tech. Target went with “Skip the Line” while “Check Out With Me” was Walmart’s choice.

Following are how each retailer described the new service.

Target

“Using specially-equipped handheld devices, team members simply scan any item in a guest’s basket or shopping cart and accept payment by credit card on the spot from anywhere in the store. During peak events like Black Friday, team members will be located in the busiest areas of the store, such as Electronics.”

Walmart

“Walmart is positioning associates in the busiest areas of its stores, like the garden center, electronics or in action alley, so customers can bypass regular checkout lines and pay for everything right in the department they are shopping. Associates will help customers pay and go by simply swiping their credit card and providing them with a paper or electronic receipt for their purchase.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the option of using mobile checkout prove popular with shoppers at Target and Walmart? Will it be more successful in one chain vs. the other? How well do you see the technology working during the busiest times of the Christmas selling season?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"As we enter the holiday shopping season, anything that reduces friction for customers is going to be a winner – and checkout is certainly a source of friction!"
"This is not the time to be fooling with something that needs weeks to settle in. Maybe Target and Walmart can beat the clock, but it is a gamble."
"Both stores have been slow to introduce this. How many customers have they lost who have walked in, seen long lines and turned on their heels?"

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14 Comments on "Are Target and Walmart customers dreaming of a mobile checkout Christmas?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Checkout friction is a conversion killer — Target and Walmart just improved their conversion rates by making it easier for people to pay and keep moving. Ultimately, the success of the program will depend on how much it’s valued by shoppers, but I’d predict that this will be a big win for both retailers and send a strong message to other retailers — mobile check-out, especially during the busy holiday, is a big deal for shoppers.

Charles Dimov
Guest

Mobile checkout is a great idea, as long as you have staffed up so you can leverage these associates as line-breakers. Specifically, this is a brilliant move to speed up Black Friday lineups beyond a snail’s pace.

I am convinced that success here will be entirely based on staffing levels. If they do it right, it will make the in-store experience more positive, encouraging shoppers to come back and to buy more.

Whether the technology works during peak hour on Black Friday depends on whether it was designed for robustness. We see the same problem with order management systems all the time. Retail puts one in, not thinking through peak capacity, load tested high volumes, and mass capabilities. Fingers crossed that both Walmart and Target have thought this one through.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

There is a big difference between buying an outfit at Nordstrom and using mobile checkout versus doing your grocery shopping and hand scanning a cart full of groceries. I think this will be great for some departments and some ‘light’ shoppers, but I don’t see this making a dramatic impact overall. And I’m not so sure the right time to roll this out (likely with minimal training) is the most busy shopping time of year.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Ah, so retailers are finally catching up with Apple which brought in this technology years and years ago. It is a good thing and really helps shoppers hard pressed for time. As might be expected, Target’s name for the service is far better than Walmart’s!

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

As an Apple fanatic, I smiled at your comment!

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Mobile checkout is an add-on to express lines, self-checkout, pre-order, and BOPIS. It’s about allowing customers to shop their way (Sears?) and convenience during a frenzied store experience. For retailers like Target and Walmart, it endears them to the store associates (Check Out With Me) and handles overflow — certainly needed during holiday seasons. Chains will see success based on how well they’ve executed and rolled out their in-store solution, how well they’ve trained their associates, and how well they’ve integrated their tech with the backend — especially inventory. Holiday season is when mobile checkout will shine by improving the customer experiences in the store.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

One of the biggest friction-filled shopping experiences is the checkout process during the holiday season. Line busting via mobile checkout is a clear value proposition for Target and Walmart consumers. That is one component that these retailers could capitalize on.

Yet there are many more omnichannel capabilities such as BOPIS, free shipping from the store, and an engaged store associate that can help increase the overall conversion rates, average order value and the sheer amount of units sold per transaction. It’s a win to have mobile checkout, but not the end-all solution for Walmart, Target and other retailers.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
As we enter the holiday shopping season, anything that reduces friction for customers is going to be a winner – and checkout is certainly a source of friction! This is a good move by both Target and Walmart to provide an associate-facilitated mobile checkout throughout the store. I find it interesting that Walmart had pulled the plug on a mobile scan and go technology when they found their customers did not use it, but, they are now thinking customers would use mobile checkout if provided by a store associate. I suspect this move is based on their testing of the scan and go solution. For Target, I think this is a continuation of solution after solution that they have been introducing this year to leverage technology to improve the shopping experience in their stores. I expect Target shoppers may be more inclined to use this than Walmart shoppers, but, given the crowds each of these brands sees during the holidays, I would not be surprised to hear this is a wild success for both bands.
Bob Amster
BrainTrust

The mobile checkout technology is a much needed improvement for most retailers, However, for it to work smoothly, store associates have to be very familiar with its operations in order to help the needy customer. This is not the time to be fooling with something that needs weeks to settle in. Maybe Target and Walmart can beat the clock, but it is a gamble.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust
Great idea, however I can see many issues starting with the availability of the store associate with the mobile checkout POS device. Let’s look at the problem with registers. It began with retailers cutting back staff and then more staff and not having enough registers open. First registers were throughout the store but to save money, many retailers moved all the registers to the front of the store causing more inconvenience for the customer. Nevertheless, they were able to cut back even more staff. Then we went with self-checkout only to find that in most cases, these machines have issues and you still have to find an associate to help you. So having mobile checkout POS devices with associates placed throughout the store is fine, but it again comes down to one major issue: will there be enough associates on the floor? Just think of the chaos on Black Friday and imagine store associates with mobile checkout POS devices bombarded by customers. There are no lines to get on so will customers be courteous and… Read more »
Michael Decker
BrainTrust
Mobile checkout is not new technology. The better question here is why did this take Walmart and Target so long to implement? Mobile “in line” checkout is a no-brainer from the customer perspective, especially when it doesn’t involve the necessary “express app” upload that other retailers have tried and failed to force on data weary customers. The retailer challenge is in proper staffing to make sure this customer experience is pulled off without a hitch. It will require full time adult cashiers with gravitas that can be trusted to scan every item accurately and handle pricing questions without fail. Shuffling and scanning a large basket of small goods without overlap or misses may be easier said than done. It’s an investment in a better physical store, shopper experience so very worthwhile and will encourage return visits during the hectic holiday season. One other hurdle on the tech side is the safety of transmitting credit card data wirelessly in-store. I suspect that has been resolved and also may be the reason for the long delay in… Read more »
Jennifer McDermott
Guest

Both stores have been slow to introduce this. How many customers have they lost who have walked in, seen long lines and turned on their heels? So long as the floor is adequately staffed and those people are properly trained, this will be a big success.

Mark Price
BrainTrust
Mark Price
Managing Partner, Smart Data Solutions, ThreeBridge
9 months 22 days ago

Checkout has long been a major source of frustration for consumers in retail and one of the contributing factors to the growth of e-commerce (although a very small contributor!). Holiday time is the worst time for checkout lines, so I imagine this capability will be well-received across both chains. Since Target’s customers tend to be a bit more digital and a bit younger, I imagine they will have a higher adoption rate, although the take-up will be strong for both chains.

Post analysis will be interesting, determining which customer segments found this feature the most popular.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Anything that makes it quick and easy — as in more convenient for the customer — is worth trying. I can see the mobile checkout cutting down on the long lines and wait times. Target and Walmart … as they both compete to offer the best selection, price and service, it can only mean good things for the consumer.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"As we enter the holiday shopping season, anything that reduces friction for customers is going to be a winner – and checkout is certainly a source of friction!"
"This is not the time to be fooling with something that needs weeks to settle in. Maybe Target and Walmart can beat the clock, but it is a gamble."
"Both stores have been slow to introduce this. How many customers have they lost who have walked in, seen long lines and turned on their heels?"

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