Walmart testing iPhone ‘Scan & Go’ checkout system

Walmart supercenterRetail giant Walmart is apparently testing out a new iPhone app which allows shoppers to scan items as they move around the store, bagging them up as they go. Payment is made at an automated checkout – as opposed to via the handset – once all the shopping’s done.

Reuters reports that tests of Walmart’s ‘Scan & Go’ system are currently being carried out at just one store – a supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas, close to the company’s headquarters. Store staff, as well as their friends, have been asked to take part in the 60-minute trial sessions, with $100 cash and a $25 gift card offered in exchange for their time.

Long lines at the checkout are of course one of the main sources of frustration for today’s shoppers. New technology has allowed many big stores to do away with checkout staff in favor of automated checkouts, but even though many of these may be open at one time, lines still form during busy times. Scan & Go may be one way to get shoppers in and out the door in super-fast time. Unless you get caught in a line of people waiting to pay, that is.

“We’re continually testing new and innovative ways to serve customers and enhance the shopping experience in our stores,” Walmart spokesman David Tovar told Reuters.

Commenting on Walmart’s Scan & Go system, Paul Weitzel, managing partner at retail consulting firm Willard Bishop, said, “All of the effort is to speed your way through the checkout so that we can reduce costs and improve the shopping experience. With smartphones and improved technology we’re only going to see more of this.”

It’s not clear what security measures are in place with the system – for example, what would stop an unscrupulous shopper from ‘accidentally’ failing to scan an item before slipping it into a bag in their cart?

Walmart already has a smartphone app available, though its functionality is limited to things like allowing shoppers to make lists and giving information on which items are in stock.

How do you like the sound of scanning as you shop? Or would you like to see a return to the days when the only way to pay for your goods meant interacting with a human being?