Walmart tests iPhone app checkout feature

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Thu Sep 6, 2012 – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing a system that would allow shoppers to scan items using their iPhones and then pay at a self-checkout counter, a move that could trim checkout times and slash costs for retailers.

If the “Scan & Go” test by the world’s largest retailer is successful, it has the potential to change the way people shop and pay, making the process more personal and potentially faster.

Earlier this week, Walmart invited employees with Apple Inc. iPhones to participate in a test at a Walmart supercenter in Rogers, Ark., near the company’s headquarters, according to a form on the Survey Monkey website.

“All of the effort is to speed your way through the checkout so that we can reduce costs and improve the shopping experience,” said Paul Weitzel, managing partner at retail consulting firm Willard Bishop, who said he had not seen Wal-Mart’s test. “With smartphones and improved technology we’re only going to see more of this.”

The test comes months after Wal-Mart said that it would add more self-checkout lanes at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores as it continues to look for ways to lower costs and prices for its shoppers.

Pushing more shoppers to scan their own items and make payments without the help of a cashier could save Wal-Mart millions of dollars, CFO Charles Holley said on March 7. Wal-Mart says it can save $12 million a year for every second it can cut from the average checkout time at the Walmart chain in the United States.