Walmart Expands Checkout-Free Technology

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Walmart Expands Checkout-Free Technology

By Randy Hofbauer, EnsembleIQ - 08/10/2017

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding its checkout-free technology to more than a dozen stores in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas, Business Insider has reported.

The solution, dubbed Scan & Go, is said to put “the checkout process in the hands of the user,” allowing customers to scan UPC codes on the items they purchase, pay for them via smartphone and show the digital receipt to an associate on the way out the door, Walmart said. Users without smartphones can borrow handheld scanners provided by the stores to use in a similar fashion.

“Our team created the technology to address one of the most common pain points shoppers face: waiting to check out,” the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer noted.

Walmart’s Sam’s Club arm debuted the solution last fall in all of its Sam’s Club stores, not long before another checkout-free concept came from its biggest rival of late, Amazon.com. In December, the Seattle-based ecommerce giant debuted a test store under its Amazon Go concept, which eschews scanning and uses the same technology in self-driving cars to detect when items are taken from or returned to shelves, and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.

However, while Amazon has yet to open the store – currently accessible by employees only and closed to others far past its originally planned public debut in early 2017 – Walmart has a nationwide network of locations ready for the new technology, should the mega-retailer wish to expand its availability. For now, it appears that scanning technology is still a necessary part of the mix in creating a successful checkout-free program.

Other grocers are testing or have recently debuted their own checkout-free, self-scanning solutions. For instance, Utah grocery store chain Macey’s debuted Skip Checkout, an app that allows shoppers to scan items with a smartphone as they are placed in the cart, pay for the products via linked card or mobile wallet, and exit the store via a dedicated lane.

While the technology is just starting to gain traction in the United States, a number of grocers abroad have been offering similar self-scanning solutions in their stores for several years, including Coop in Switzerland, with its Passabene mobile app, and Ahold Delhaize-owned Albert Heijn in the Netherlands.