Is Wal-Mart's Scan & Go the future of shopping?
The retailing giant experiments with letting customers use smartphones to speed through checkout. Will it work?
Wal-Mart (WMT) is test-driving a system that could dramatically change the way Americans shop. The program, called Scan & Go, lets customers scan their own goods with their smartphones, pass through a self-checkout line and zip out of the store.
The company recently conducted a trial run with employees and their friends and families at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rogers, Ark., not far from the retail giant's Bentonville headquarters. If all goes well, the nation's largest retailer could begin rolling out Scan & Go nationwide. Is this the future of shopping?
Here's a brief guide:
How does the system work?
First, shoppers install the Scan & Go app on their iPhones. Then, while cruising Wal-Mart's aisles, they scan the bar codes of the items they want and bag them as they shop. Once they've got everything they need, the app sends data on the scanned items to a self-checkout station. The customers stop by the payment station, swipe a credit card, and -- voila -- they're on their way. The test version doesn't allow customers to pay using their phones, which would let them skip the payment station, but mobile payment could be coming.
What's the point?
Wal-Mart figures the new system will pay off for customers and the company alike. A trip to the big box theoretically becomes more enjoyable for shoppers if they can avoid long checkout lines. Meanwhile, the company says it can save $12 million on cashier salaries for every second it can shave off the typical checkout process.
Has anyone tried this before?
Yes. This is the fourth technology that large-scale retailers have seized on in their ongoing quest to simultaneously cut costs and make shopping easiet, Paul Weitzel, a managing partner at the retail consulting firm Willard Bishop, tells Reuters. Supermarket chain Jewel-Osco, for example, experimented several years ago with giving customers handheld scanners. "With smartphones and improved technology," Bishop says, "we're only going to see more of this."
Will this really change the way we shop?
Existing self-checkout lines become annoying when the scanning contraption doesn't recognize an item and you have to wait "for a Wal-Mart worker to intervene," says Christina DesMarais at PC World. If Scan & Go eliminates such snafus, it's a blessing, but it won't be revolutionary until you can pay with the app and avoid the checkout counter altogether. This "fledgling program" is just the beginning, says Jennifer Van Grove at VentureBeat. Wal-Mart Labs, the retail giant's social and mobile product incubator, has been snapping up app makers and mobile payment startups, all in an effort to zip customers out the door faster. And not a moment too soon, says Jose Martinez at Complex. Those of us who love Wal-Mart's low prices hate its long checkout lines. If the company can save money and lose the bottleneck at the same time, it's "a match made in heaven."
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An IPhone. Well for crying out loud, They are making it easier for the non working crowd to shop. How nice.
It seems like no matter what store I go to and get in line, the gal in front of me in line is on her fancy IPhone, then she gets to the register and whips out her EBT card.
Sounds like a great opp for shoplifters! How about the line you're gonna be standing in to get a question answered or a price changed or a coupon scanned...think of all those cashiers that walmart can put on unemployment and food stamps so walmart can make billions more!
It's also good to know that all those food stamp recipients are getting enough money from the government to buy iphones so they can do all the scanning!
What is to prevent you from putting an item or items in the cart which you don't scan. Sounds like they're going to have a big shop lifting problem on their hands.
Good luck with this.
WHO CAN AFFORD AN IPHONE? AND PAY FOR ITS MONTHLY FEES? not me..I agree with others, this will enable
lots more shoplifting,and make things easier for them..what a concept!! i wonder when they are walking out with
their shopping carts and goodies bagged,will the buzzer go off for the items they didn't scan? I don't live close to a
Walmart anyway,so don't go there.I try to shop in our small town and help out the locals..
If Walmart don't want to hire checkout employees and give customer service they should just lock the door. If I go to a store without a checkout lane and must checkout myself I just leave the cart and walk out. This has happened several times and will continue. Walmart is getting very bad on the registers but it depends on where the store is located. The Western region is just awful and the Regional VP should be fired.
me and my wife said the same thing, what will keep them from slidding something in the bag that they didn't scan? shoplifting is already a big problem, it will probably get worse.
@ Nicholas Van Orton
Sadley - you are not the only example of how our great nation has been so fragmented. As 9-11 approaches, and we remember that somber date - I would hope we could recover the Idea of "American" and not focus so much on "Republican" or "Democrat".
I write these words to you Sir - because frankly - you are part of the problem, and I would hope you would want to be part of the solution.
When someone such as yourself reads an article on self-check out technologies, and the future, and all you have to comment about is a rant on "Us" against "Them" politics - then you are part of the problem.
At least he would be back in his class and could relax more.
I DO NOT use self scan because someone will lose their job & I don`t get a discount for checking myself out, Wal-Mart can aford to pay check out persons. I have left full carts of grocery because
line was to long.
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