Walmart has announced that it’s going to be expanding its Scan & Go solution to 100 new stores throughout 2018, while Kroger has reportedly said it will be expanding a similar solution to 400 new stores. Walmart’s Scan & Go allows customers to scan items with their phone as they walk around the store, then head through a special checkout lane to pay with their phone, giving them the option to avoid any human interaction while shopping, if they so choose. Kroger’s system, called “Scan, Bag, Go,” works in much the same way, though the company plans to allow mobile payment without passing through a self-checkout point in the near future, making the process faster and more seamless than that of Walmart.
Walmart’s Scan & Go solution will be hitting 100 new stores across 33 states, starting in select large markets like Orlando and Dallas. Presumably, success in these markets will see the solution expand outward to other key markets, and eventually to all Walmart stores. Kroger has a national footprint of 2,700 stores, 400 of which will see Scan, Bag, Go debut in 2018. This will put it ahead of Walmart by the adoption of such solutions for the time being, though Walmart’s slower approach is arguably ideal for such a relatively new and risky technology. Any number of things could go wrong, and problems will likely need to be addressed along the course of the rollout. The mobile apps for both solutions are already available.
These solutions will likely reduce the workload on cashiers, thus reducing lines and wait time for shoppers. The stores are far from ready to get rid of cashiers entirely; some customers are simply not comfortable deviating from the traditional cashier system just yet, or may not be able to properly use the technology behind cashier-free solutions. Additionally, Walmart Pay and Scan & Go cannot currently add in EBT, WIC, and SNAP cards, whereas Kroger’s website does not indicate whether this is possible. There is, of course, always the possibility of theft to contend with; in-store robotics and AI solutions have a long way to go before they can adequately deal with that threat, on top of other obstacles.