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Summary:

The world’s largest retailer is expanding a new feature to more stores that enables customers to scan items as they shop with their iPhone and pay at a self-checkout station.

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Walmart 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, though Walmart says an Android 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. 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.

  1. I would bet that where Wal-Mart is really going with this is the eventual reduction of POS systems and with it the reduction of employee headcount to run those point of sales systems. As retailers condition consumers to become more comfortable with “self-checkout” and payment this becomes a huge cost savings for the company. Reduction in purchases and maintenance of the POS and less need for employees at the register.

    These mobile apps also serve to gather an incredible amount of personal buying data on each customer that can aide in the individual retailers marketing objectives but also could probably be sold to other companies as well.

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  2. I love it! No more standing in line for 20 minutes with a bunch of weirdos! That’s always been the biggest turnoff for me about shopping at Walmart.

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  3. Reblogged this on Critical IT Solutions and commented:
    Walmart enters the fray with a Mobile App – I am assuming that once NFC is more prevalent, it will serve to make the check out process even easier. The possibilities coming off this for Big Box and department store apps are endless, taking advantage of the capabilities of to do things like location based advertizing, competitive comparisons, upsell, wishlist, shopping list, etc. Canadian Tire, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, and Rona should all be paying attention – this is the sort of convenience that will draw more traffic to your stores.

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  4. Article doesn’t mention where the Walmart security check lies in this system. For example, if a customer scans 32 items into the App, but really has 39 items at checkout, how will the system capture this store shrink?

    Could be possible that after swiping the credit card, the self-checkout device prompts the user to bag the entire purchase at once, with bags remaining on the checkout area, thus system will compare the weight of the order to the total weight of the items scanned in the order?

    Could be a huge win for Walmart if they re-invest the saved payroll hours into better re-stocking of shelves. (More night-crew stockers?)

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  5. why don’t walmart have a payment system like Paypal and drive Paypal out of business, paypal has been monopolize the market for a long time.

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