Walmart(s WMT) is taking the idea of self-checkout to another, more mobile level. The retailer is bringing the “Scan & Go” feature of its Walmart iOS app to 200 stores in the U.S., according to a Reuters report Wednesday. The feature has been in use in some stores already, but at only about 70 near Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters and in Atlanta.
Scan & Go is only available on the iPhone,(s AAPL) though Walmart says an Android(s GOOG) version is “coming soon.”
Shoppers that have the Walmart app can select “in-store mode” and then scan each item’s barcode as they pick up items throughout the store. Users who have also created shopping lists or budgets within the app will see items scanned “checked off” on their lists. Once finished, they need only go to a self-checkout terminal, scan a barcode on the screen — which reads the items they have in their cart — and pay as usual by swiping a credit card.
It’s not a mobile payment system exactly. And Walmart’s version doesn’t enable the same independence as, say, what Apple has enabled in its own retail stores with the EasyPay option in its Apple Store app or apps from companies like Square and Paypal(s EBAY). With Walmart’s app, you still need to scan one final time at a self-checkout terminal to make your payment through traditional means.
But it’s a step toward easier physical world transactions using mobile technology in the company’s 4,000-store retail empire. Scan & Go could be even more convenient and useful to busy shoppers if Walmart were to enable a payment system within the app.
A lot of companies are being creative with mobile payments and barcode scanning with smartphones. And the success of Square, LevelUp and plenty of others have demonstrated that mainstream users are getting used to the idea of paying with their iPhone — without need for technology like NFC chips inside the device.