Wal-Mart rolling out smartphone checkouts at 200 stores

Wal-Mart shoppers will be able bypass the traditional checkout process at more than 200 stores with the Scan & Go app, but they still must pay the old-fashioned way.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it is tripling the number of U.S. stores in a pilot program that lets shoppers scan items with their iPhones and pay at self-checkout counters.

Wal-Mart's Scan & Go program will soon be in more than 200 stores, up from about 70. The pilot began near its home office in Bentonville, Ark., in late 2012, then expanded to Atlanta.

While the program is tripling in size, for now it will be in only a small fraction of Wal-Mart's more than 4,000 U.S. stores.

Walmart expanding iPhone-based checkout

Walmart expanding iPhone-based checkout
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"We want our customer feedback to dictate the experience," Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and digital at Wal-Mart Global eCommerce, said this week. "You'll see this roll out to more markets."

For now, Scan & Go only works on Apple devices. An Android version should be out soon, Wal-Mart said.

With more than half of its shoppers using smartphones, Wal-Mart is trying to make shopping more convenient for shoppers who embrace mobile technology. More than half of the customers who have tried the Scan & Go feature have used it more than once, Thomas said.

Shoppers scan bar codes on items they want to buy, using the Wal-Mart app on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to keep track of the planned purchases and the total cost. Then they pay at a self-checkout screen, bypassing the typical registers.

As it expands the pilot test of Scan & Go, Wal-Mart is also adding self-checkout lanes to many more stores. Right now, about 1,500 stores have self-checkout lanes, and another 1,000 to 1,500 stores should get them this year, said Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Wal-Mart U.S. Innovations.

DIGITAL COUPONS MAY BE COMING

Wal-Mart is bringing Scan & Go to a dozen more markets: Denver; Phoenix; Omaha, Neb.; Dallas and Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Wyoming; Bozeman, Mont.; Seattle; San Jose, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.

Users can get an electronic receipt along with a paper one. Wal-Mart has hinted that digital coupons may be coming soon.

Scan & Go users pay in the traditional way, not via apps on their devices. The company declined to comment further on mobile payment possibilities.

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