The world’s largest retailer may be getting behind the mobile self-checkout model of in-store smartphone use. According to a Reuters report, the company recently tested the system with a group of employees in their Rogers, Arkansas location. The subjects were asked to scan items with their phones and then go to a special self-checkout counter for payment. It is not clear how much time, effort or retail resources this saves over a typical self-checkout aisle in any other retail grocery or store.
Walmart announced recently that it planned to add more self-checkout lanes to its stores to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs. A smartphone complement could help encourage cashier-less checkout.
According to Reuters, Walmart customers often complain on Twitter about long checkout waits at stores and too few cashiers.
In most mobile self-checkout schemes we have seen, the user scans a product, pays by phone in the store and then has a mobile receipt to show an attendant at the exit for proof of purchase. The Walmart test did not allow people to pay for items on their phones, but simply bag them as they shopped in order to pay faster at the checkout aisle.
In addition to reducing staffing costs, a retailer like Walmart may also use mobile devices to improve the overall experience of in-store buying. A smartphone scan can help the shopper identify prices (not always easy in many Walmarts) and track cart size, specials pricing, etc. before checking out. Inducing shoppers to use a Walmart app in-store also gives the retailer the opportunity to upsell, make recommendations and merchandise.