- Walmart ended its Scan & Go service that let customers pay for items while they browsed stores and skip the checkout line, the retailer confirmed to Business Insider. Shoppers could use a mobile app on their smartphone or handheld scanners provided inside stores at about 150 U.S. locations.
- This decision to cut the service comes four months after the chain announced it would expand Scan & Go to more than 100 stores, which led the retailer to discover that few customers actually used the mobile self-checkout service. According to CBC News, it was challenging for shoppers to bag, weigh and scan items like produce, causing most to head to traditional checkout counters.
- Walmart said it would use insights from Scan & Go to support other tests like Check Out With Me, a service announced in April that gives employees mobile point-of-sale devices that can ring up items and provide a receipt on the spot.
Walmart is finding it harder than it may have originally anticipated to convince customers to adopt new tech and engage with the retailer through digital and mobile platforms. While consumers are drawn to convenient shopping experiences, many didn't see the value of doing more work while browsing when they could easily hand off tasks like bagging and scanning to trained cashiers at checkout. Mobile technology has transformed the way many people communicate and perform everyday tasks, but some habits are harder to break, as Walmart found with its test of Scan & Go.
The failed test highlights a key challenge for Walmart in competing with Amazon, which has begun to dip into the physical retail space in recent years with cashier-less Go stores and its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon, as a digital-first brand that has already helped transform the way consumers shop with its e-commerce platform, may have an easier time convincing consumers that digital technology can also transform the in-store shopping experience. Amazon Go opened its first location earlier this year in Seattle and additional locations in San Francisco and Chicago are reportedly in the works. The stores use technology to let shoppers purchase items without scanning or stopping at a register. Kroger is also investing in technology to ease the grocery shopping experience with the expansion of its "Scan, Bag, Go" service that the company said it's bringing to 400 stores this year.
The grocery space is a competitive market and major players are aggressively working to integrate tech and creative strategies to offer a more seamless and convenient shopping experience. The checkout service that has seen the greatest traction among Walmart customers so far is its grocery pickup. Shoppers can still avoid checkout lines by ordering items online and picking them up at stores where an employee will load them into their car. Walmart is expanding this service to more than 2,000 stores this year to ramp up convenience.