Will Walmart’s Customers Scan & Go to the Self-Checkout?

Discussion
Mar 21, 2013

Members of the RetailWire community were split back in September on the viability of Walmart’s "Scan & Go" which, in tests, allowed customers to scan items using an iPhone while they shopped and go to the self-checkout for a quicker front-end experience.

Now comes word the retailer is expanding the test beyond the 70 pilot stores in the Atlanta and Bentonville markets to 200 other locations in 12 markets located in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

More than half of Walmart shoppers have smartphones, according to Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and digital initiatives at Walmart Global eCommerce.

"Our goal is to give choices to all of our customers however they want to shop," Mr. Thomas told The Associated Press. "It’s part of a holistic program to empower the customer."

Consumer acceptance of the program has been high. Consumers are said to be happy knowing how much they will be paying before getting to the checkout. Being able to control how their purchases are packed is also seen as a customer benefit.

The "Scan & Go" program is currently only available to consumers with an iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad, although Walmart plans to release versions for other mobile platforms, as well.

Do you see a national rollout of “Scan & Go” at Walmart in the future? Are there other in-store scanning/checkout programs that you think hold as great or greater potential than the one being tested by Walmart?

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25 Comments on "Will Walmart’s Customers Scan & Go to the Self-Checkout?"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

If consumers continue to adopt the Scan & Go program, expect Walmart to roll it out nationally and other chains to follow. The program gives consumers more control of their shopping experience and saves WM time and money. The next step would be to link the program with manufacturer coupons, recipes and merchandise recommendations.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

Of course, provided the system continues to do well in tests.

The issue will be to develop a program which is platform agnostic. Apple customers shouldn’t be the only ones to enjoy the benefits of an improved shopping experience.

I anticipate that scan and go technologies will continue to advance and that what we are seeing today is just the tip of a much larger technology iceberg,

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I think it’s likely to go national, assuming that the 200-store rollout goes well and there’s no reason it won’t. Happier consumers, a cut in labor costs, so for Walmart it’s a no-brainer.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I may be very jaded, but I don’t think this program is aimed for the typical “People of Walmart.” I think it’s another subtle attempt to attract higher income customers—to take them away from Target and others.

So yes, I think Walmart will roll it out. And I think it’ll prove to be an “eh” investment.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 2 months ago
Walmart now offers its customers traditional checkout services, self-checkout and Scan & Go. Nothing in the article indicates if all three are being offered at the same locations. If they are, I wonder what differences we would find in the demographics and market baskets of those using each method. My expectation is that Scan & Go appeals to the younger shopper whose sees it not only as a convenience and a method to know what they are spending, but as a “hipper” process that self-checkout or having a cashier ringing up the items. It also allows them the perception of a faster checkout process (they have been actually checking out all the time they were shopping). The articles indicate 50% of those that try Scan & Go state they will use it again. When Walmart adds Android-based phones to those that can use it even with a 50% reuse rate, it could definitely impact their front-end labor. I saw nothing that indicates what it did to their shrink rate, but have to assume that the… Read more »
Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
9 years 2 months ago
I had the opportunity to try this recently. It worked very well. I came away with two main thoughts. 1) Typically consumers like self checkout for small baskets. Those with larger baskets tend to use the store checkers because they can scan large baskets much faster. This capability quickly transfers large baskets without having to scan in the checkout area. It may create a preferred “self service” method for larger baskets increasing “self serve” checkout. 2) You still have to invest the effort to scan the items, but you are doing it at a different time. If you are shopping solo this may not provide any perceived time benefit. However, I have this vision of my wife walking down the aisle, selecting items, handing them to me to scan and me putting them in the cart. You could train the kids to do this as well, better utilizing resources that are often in the store with the main shopper, but not very productive, thus reducing overall time to shop. Great example of innovation, and no… Read more »
David Dorf
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

Even if increased shrink doesn’t quite cover decreased labor costs, Walmart can probably make up the difference with increased basket size via targeted marketing. The potential to communicate with customers while they shop is huge. I think the strategy is solid and the rollout will continue.

Zel Bianco
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

This is a great example of when technology gets it right. I definitely expect to see a national rollout of Scan & Go; it’s a great idea. Comparing products is an age-old pastime, so this is just an extension of that practice, coupled with not having to add up your basket in your head as you shop. With the addition of adding in coupons, I could see this easily taking 50% of check-out procedures nationwide.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

Absolutely. I was in Bentonville over the weekend and observed many shoppers using the system, apparently with delight and without glitches. As noted in the article it gives shoppers control of the process. It’s potential is significant given the meteoric growth in Smartphones and digital millennial natives entry into the shopping world.

Frank Riso
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I do see a rollout. The fact that they are expanding the test is a clear sign of its success.

I do think they will need to add android phones to the equation soon in order to increase the number of available shoppers. I also think a combination of customers who will use their own phones for portable shopping may have to be supplemented with store-provided technology for those shoppers who will not use their phones, or who are concerned with things like battery life of their phones, texting while shopping, waiting for a call from their children, etc., so that a customer has choice in any portable self-checkout in a scan and go solution.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

Scanning items while shopping gives consumers control, which makes consumers happy. Using the scanning data to check out quickly makes consumers happy. Having consumers use their iPhones now (and other smartphone devices in the future) makes Walmart happy.

Once the programming works, Walmart can provide in-store scanning and faster checkout without having to purchase devices for consumers to use, monitor devices, repair devices, or keep them from being stolen.

Matt Lincoln
Guest
Matt Lincoln
9 years 2 months ago

Walmart will continue to phase the “Scan & Go” in as long as it continue to do well in tests. The scan and go system eliminates a couple of Walmart’s pain points. Customers will have shorter wait times. Additionally, Walmart will be able to cut down cost on their hourly employees.

I envision the scan & go system becoming a platform which Walmart can build on. Once Walmart infuses rewards and promotions, it will be able to influence the consumers behavior during the buying process and recommend additional items or increased quantities. The personalization wave continues.

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 2 months ago

It seems very sensible to continue to scale this. It will be interesting to see how it fits with mobile payments in the future and especially the MCX offering.

Raymond D. Jones
Guest
Raymond D. Jones
9 years 2 months ago

Dechert-Hampe has done extensive research at the checkout as part of our Front-end Focus research.

The checkout experience often has a negative impact on the overall shopping experience at the store. This is sometimes worse at big box stores like Walmart.

We have found that many shoppers prefer self checkout and other technology assisted checkout systems to traditional checkout. Even if it takes as long, the shopper feels more in control of the process.

Our recommendation to retailers is to “follow the banking model” and offer consumers multiple routes to conduct their shopping transactions.

Jack Pansegrau
Guest
Jack Pansegrau
9 years 2 months ago

Wow, it’s an answer to my prayer—permitting faster checkout and shorter lines. It also empowers the least affluent (assuming a Smartphone is ‘needed’ by all income levels) who must limit their purchases or need to count out quarters and pennies in the checkout line, further slowing the process for everyone. So it sounds wonderful for all but the clerks who currently work in checkout….

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I believe Walmart has already decided it will roll this out nationally. Just an opinion not based on fact other than that Walmart does what Walmart wants. However, as stated in an earlier comment, I am not sure this is for all Walmart customers.

It would be interesting to know if the test covers all Walmart stores, including the older typical Walmart locations, or only the newer full-service stores in more affluent neighborhoods.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
9 years 2 months ago

I’m with Frank on the need for an Android rollout, particularly as Samsung steals Apple’s thunder (count me as one who recently and remorselessly ditched my iPhone for a Note 2).

Paul makes a great point about changing the basket size-to-self-checkout dynamic, and no doubt this is a major consideration as workforce optimization remains front and center for Walmart.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Scan & Go will tie into Walmart’s ambitions to accelerate its Retail Development Kit (RDK) concept with suppliers. I addressed it in a blog article from CMO Stephen Quinn’s presentation from late last year.

Lee Kent
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I see this type of self-checkout as maybe a first step in the right direction. WM will likely roll this out to other stores since it is proving itself in the test, however, I see some issues related to theft that must be carefully thought out.

These big box stores could use a faster way for the customer to get out of the store, especially during holidays and other big events that bring shoppers. But along with that chaos comes the need to ensure that the customer is leaving the store with ONLY what they paid for. Possibly another type of bottleneck.

Tom Redd
Guest
9 years 2 months ago
So my traditional Walmart trips are going to dwindle to spending more time with my cell phone? Oops, iPhone? My time at the register is going to fade? Why is all this ‘make it happen fast’ happening at all? I sometimes wonder why everyone is in such a hurry to get more mobile and social time. Watching some younger people, it seems like they have more time to waste—or they must—because they are spending so much time on their mobile devices.  For example, stats from December 2012. We watch TV for 168 minutes per day (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest stat, which is from 2011). Other sources state that we spend 127 minutes per day using mobile apps either playing games, shopping, checking social media feeds, etc. The 127 minutes is a significant step up from a year earlier—by about 22 minutes and many believe this number is climbing. So, where is this going? Faster time at Walmart so they have more time to…? Use their mobile devices? Work more? You… Read more »
Janet Dorenkott
Guest
Janet Dorenkott
9 years 2 months ago

I think it will continue to grow. It makes sense. I don’t buy the idea that different demographics won’t want to use it. In fact, in poor areas, the acceptance might even be higher since they are the ones who have to be more careful about staying within their budget.

From college kids to new grads and families, this is a good idea. When my kids were young, I carried a calculator to keep track. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting to the cash register and finding out you have to have them remove items from the bill.

Martin Mehalchin
Guest
Martin Mehalchin
9 years 2 months ago

Yes, I absolutely see a national rollout in the cards. The potential benefits in store labor savings and customer convenience are too great to ignore and this program is totally aligned to the needs of the “mission-driven” Walmart shopper.

I’m aware of several mobile tech vendors that are pitching this type of functionality to other retailers and there is a store here in Seattle, Hointer, that has built its entire experience around a similar concept.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 2 months ago

Not being familiar with the program, does the register read the smartphone or is this simply a means of keeping up with what you are spending?

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

This is more of the wave that Stop & Shop/Catalina Mobile began a dozen years ago, only now it is the smart phone, rather than a proprietary device. This is an absolute no-brainer, and WILL be a massive success, as it is tweaked for further benefits. Pair this with Walmart’s American Express card, and watch the dominance grow.

However, this is nothing “exclusive” to Walmart. I already mentioned Stop & Shop, but as fast as benefits accrue, additional retailers will be on board—as well as others who are already in the shopper app mode. This is the cutting edge of the Convergence of Online, Mobile and Bricks (COMB) retailing.

Alexander Rink
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

With the high adoption of smartphones and the current success in the target markets, I don’t see any reason why the “Scan & Go” program will not roll out nationally. From a consumer perspective, I certainly hope it does! Even better, I would like to see shoppers be able to skip the last step of going to the self checkout if they want to pay with a credit card or online method of payment.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

Any strategy that marries retail and technology is a positive. Walmart does this as well as anyone. It’s a twofers if one of the benefits is the separation of the so-called ‘People of Walmart’ from better-heeled customers.

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