Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has been testing its “Scan & Go” iPhone shopping app at one of its stores in Arkansas, has expanded the test to the self-service lanes at 40 Walmarts in the Denver area.
With the app, which Wal-Mart told a local news station in Denver is still in “test mode,” shoppers use their iPhone’s camera to scan items they intend to purchase as they grab them off shelves and place them in the cart. When finished, they click on the “done shopping” button on the app, which then creates a quick-response code. The self-service station reads the code to identify the items being purchased and weighs the products placed on a scale to check for discrepancies in the price total. Payment is then initiated using the kiosk, not the phone.
A local news report in Denver where a reporter tested the app suggested the product still has some bugs to work out.
As the reporter found, stores are finding combining mobile and shopping experiences often can be problematic. In her test, one of the scanned items didn’t have a price attached, for example. She also had to leave the store for better reception to download the app, which took 10 minutes to complete the registration process to activate.
Walmart isn’t incorporating payment within the app, perhaps waiting until the customer-experience bugs are worked out. Some similar apps, including one from NCR Corp., which demonstrated its NCR Mobile Shopper app during the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York earlier this year, do support payments from the phone (NCR is working with PayPal to support its Mobile Shopper app).
Mobile-shopping apps have potential once merchants fix any bugs they discover during testing. As illustrated with NCR’s product, consumers can preload their shopping lists, and merchants automatically can provide discounts on scanned items and note them immediately on the app. The app also can give shoppers a better idea how much they’re spending, thus avoiding surprises at the point of sale. But to save time, consumers should download the app at home before trying to do so while in the store.