Two of the U.S.’s largest brick-and-mortar retailers, Walmart and Target, are launching new mobile checkout systems in their stores to accommodate the influx of shoppers expected during the 2018 holiday season. Walmart says it’s expanding its “Check Out With Me” service to every Supercenter by Black Friday, while Target’s recently launched “Skip the Line” mobile checkout service is available nationwide and will have extra staff throughout the store during the busier shopping days.
Walmart first began testing Check Out With Me in April this year across hundreds of U.S. stores.
The system involves store staff wearing a small carrying case equipped with a Bluetooth receipt printer, and a cellular device that works as both a barcode scanner and credit card swiper for transactions.
Initially, Walmart tested the solution in its Lawn & Garden centers across 350 stores, where there’s more need for a mobile checkout solution.
Instead of customers having to lug heavy items — like bags of mulch and potted plants — to a checkout station, a Walmart team member could instead just scan the item on the shelf, so it can be loaded directly into the customer’s car afterwards.
Now that checkout system will make its way to Walmart’s more than 3,000 Supercenters across the U.S. Starting on Black Friday, store associates will be positioned in the busiest areas of the stores, including not only the garden center as before, but also in other high-traffic areas like electronics and “action alley” — the areas featuring special promotions in the aisles.
“Associates will help customers pay and go by simply swiping their credit card and providing them with a paper or electronic receipt for their purchase,” the retailer explained.
The expansion of mobile checkout was one of several holiday plans Walmart announced, including an expanded assortment of brands, digital maps inside the Walmart app, the updated Walmart.com website, free two-day shipping from marketplace sellers and more.
Meanwhile, Target recently said it’s launching mobile checkout in its stores in time for the holidays, as well.
The company had begun testing its “Skip the Line” mobile checkout experience in select stores in February 2018, but has expanded that as of last month to all Target stores nationwide.
Similar to Walmart, Target’s solution includes equipping store staff with special handheld devices they can use to scan merchandise and process payments. From this same device, staff can also help customers place online orders if the store doesn’t carry an item they want.
During peak events — like Thanksgiving, Black Friday and others — team members will be positioned in the busiest areas of the store, including at the front-of-the-store and in the electronics department, the retailer says.
Today, more consumers are turning to e-commerce — and particularly to Amazon — for their holiday shopping needs out of convenience.
Now, those customers are looking for similar conveniences when they shop brick-and-mortar retailers, too. Stores are now catering to customer demand for faster, easier shopping by offering services like ship-to-store for online order pickup, same day order pickup (and driveup), and more.
With mobile checkout, retailers can address one of the remaining challenges of shopping in-store — those long checkout lines — without having to invest in expensive Amazon Go-like technology like camera systems and shelf sensors for a cashier-less experience.