First, there was the self-bagging innovation. Then there were the self-serve checkouts (and their attendant hovering sales associates, ready to help with inevitable technical mishaps). Now with Walmart’s introduction of Scan & Go technology, shopping enters a freshly interactive age.
Last week, Walmart Canada picked 22 stores from across the country as inaugural hosts for a new electronic payment-processing system that has an app as its central piece.
In this (almost) pain-free shopping scenario, customers pick up portable barcode scanners at the launch of their shopping trips, and use them to scan and tally up purchases as they go. At the end, an itemized receipt on their display lets them know what to pay—to either a flesh-and-blood cashier or at a self-serve kiosk—at checkout.
The Scan & Go-equipped stores in BC, Alberta and Ontario mark the first appearance of a Scan & Go in this country; the technology’s been available at Sam’s Clubs in the States for more than a year.
Eventually, says Walmart, the handheld scanners may be abandoned in favour of a smartphone app, as is the standard in the US stores.
While the big-box retailer has claimed this move to automation will not result in human-resource cutbacks (citing customer convenience as the objective), many with an eye on the developing scene are skeptical.
So pokes through the iceberg. By the end of 2016, according to research from London-based research and consulting group RBR, there were 255,000 self-checkout machines in stores around the world; by 2022, that number’s expected to have topped 400,000.