You can crack all the jokes you want about Wal-Mart, particularly about “Wal-Mart speak”, but you can’t deny the impact of this chain, both on those in the industry and on consumers. More so, for an “old” company, Wal-Mart does seem to be on the ball when it comes to taking on new technologies to improve its services. (Here is where the “What service?” jokes come in.)
All kidding aside, Wal-Mart’s Scan & Go program is in its early stages, with a handful of stores running it. The program essentially allows customers to do self-checkout by using their iPhones to scan the items they are buying. After scanning the items, customers can then proceed to self-checkout counter to pay.
The concept is very attractive. For one, it takes advantage of the fact that most people have smartphones. Customers only have to use the Wal-Mart app to scan their items, leaving out the middleman that is the cashier, who can be tediously slow at times. There is the inconvenience – at least to non-iPhone users – that there is only an iOS app for now, but Wal-Mart says that they are still testing the system and getting feedback from customers and that they are planning on rolling out an Android app soon.
It looks like Wal-Mart may have something with the Scan & Go project, especially with customers in the pilot program using the app repeatedly. Additionally, the chain is adding the system to more stores. Given that Wal-Mart has thousands of branches nationwide, the number of stores that will be featuring Scan & Go is but a small fraction, but the development is still an indication of positive response from customers.
With Wal-Mart leading the way in this matter, I wouldn’t be surprised if other stores actually do a copycat act by establishing their own self-checkout service. And this is one of those times when copying benefits the general public.