Walmart experiment lets customers scan items using their iPhone

By on September 3, 2012, 8:30 AM

Walmart is in the process of testing a new service that would allow customers to scan items using their iPhone. The “Scan & Go” program would help speed up the checkout process in addition to saving millions each year in cashier wages.

A trial run was recently conducted at a Walmart Supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas which a short distance from the company’s headquarters in Bentonville. Employees and their friends and families were invited for a one hour shopping session where they were instructed to use an iPhone to scan items as they shop, bagging the purchases along the way. When finished, the app sends the scanned items to a self-checkout station to accept payment.

Paul Weitzel, managing partner at retail consulting firm Willard Bishop, told Retuers that this is probably the fourth technology that retailers have tried to use to reduce costs and improve the shopping experience. Grocery store chain Jewel-Osco once experimented with letting customers use handheld scanners while they shopped but that reportedly ended years ago.

The multinational retailer may be known for their low price strategy but one of the chief complaints against the chain is the long checkout lines. It’s not uncommon to find only a few cashiers on duty at any given time while most Supercenters have nearly two dozen or more checkout lanes.

Those participating in the program were given $100 for other time and a $25 Walmart gift card to help pay for purchases. It’s unclear if Walmart plans to expand the program to other stores in the near future, or at all.




User Comments: 16

Got something to say? Post a comment
Amigosdefox said:

What I don't get is how they will make sure that everything going into the shopping cart will be scanned.

People could maliciously or accidentally take items without scanning and paying for them.

Guest said:

They won't be able to, but they savings will probably still offset the losses from theft/mistakes. Generally as long as there's even a small potential for being caught (like CCTV or random checks) most people will be honest.

gcarter gcarter said:

Why is it that iphone users are chosen instead of android users?

Guest said:

"but they savings will probably still offset the losses from theft/mistakes."

Yes, totally.

"Why is it that iphone users are chosen instead of android users?"

+1

Timonius Timonius said:

Hmmm...Brand A looks like Brand B. I like Brand A more, but Brand B is cheaper. *scans Brand B, puts Brand A in cart*

Yeah how are they going to stop people from doing that? Even if the excuse after getting caught was it was a 'mistake' made while comparing.

Guest said:

Like I said, most people are honest even when there's only a slight chance of being caught. Scanning one product and placing another into the basket is a fairly obvious manoeuvre too. I don't know about the US, but over here in the UK self-service checkouts are ubiquitous and just as easily prone to abuse as this pilot, yet most people use them as intended.

Camikazi said:

Like I said, most people are honest even when there's only a slight chance of being caught. Scanning one product and placing another into the basket is a fairly obvious manoeuvre too. I don't know about the US, but over here in the UK self-service checkouts are ubiquitous and just as easily prone to abuse as this pilot, yet most people use them as intended.

Those self-service checkouts have more than one camera on them and are watched very well with security guards near by (in plain clothes so you won't notice them). Don't think that just cause you can't see them that they aren't watching you when you checkout

Alexmx said:

"Why is it that iphone users are chosen instead of android users?"

Easy!

iPhone have a superior moral authority than any other people out there; given the status they have because they have an iPhone, I doubt that they would risk that superiority to something mundane like shoplifting

/sarcasm

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The technology can easily be transfered over to android, my only concern is items with built in RFID tags that need to be deactivated before you leave the store. Granted the vast majority of items sold at Walmart do not contain such a device, some items do and require that last step of processing before they leave the store. It's a neat idea, the technology is there, and Walmart does have the power to implement it across the chain. Just needs to be tested very thoroughly to be approved for use.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

iPhone have a superior moral authority than any other people out there; given the status they have because they have an iPhone, I doubt that they would risk that superiority to something mundane like shoplifting
Thats laughable when I think about my neice (and all other youth) having an iPhone, I definitely wouldn't put shoplifting past her.

Guest said:

I found it interesting that Walmart would experiment with this technology, when they don't even use existing technology in my location. This is not a high crime area, but there are zero self checkout lanes, while other stores in the same location use self checkout lanes. I only go to Walmart for specific items because I rate the checkout poor.

Guest said:

Shoplifter watches you scan an item with your phone. Shoplifter takes the item when you're not looking. It's that easy!

Guest said:

I wonder if it's restricted to iphones, or whether any rectangular (with rounded corners) object will do?

Guest said:

First off....other than rednecks who shops at walmart?

Zilpha Zilpha said:

First off....other than rednecks who shops at walmart?

Not a relevant statement, and potentially inflammatory. Walmart is a huge chain that most middle class families shop at.

I think it's a neat idea, but we'll see whether they stick with it. I remember an old commercial where a guy walks through a grocery store taking meat out of the freezers and just putting it in his jacket. This continues for a few minutes until he walks through the checkout aisle, where folks just wave to him as he leaves. Apparently he had some kind of device that automatically deducted the cost of the groceries he "bought" from some account somewhere, but I can't remember what the technology was supposed to be. In any event, that was years ago and we still don't have anything like it, but this is a step in the right direction.

Guest said:

Not a relevant statement, and potentially inflammatory. Walmart is a huge chain that most middle class families shop at.

Most, but not all :)

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.