Wal-Mart testing iPhone scan system

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Wal-Mart testing iPhone scan system

Wal-Mart Stores 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 a hit, it has the potential to change the way people shop and pay, making the process more personal and potentially faster.

Earlier last week, Wal-Mart invited employees with iPhones to participate in a test at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas, near the company’s headquarters, according to a form on the Survey Monkey Web site.

“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 Wal-Mart 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, Chief Financial Officer 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 Wal-Mart chain in the United States.

Shoppers often complain on Twitter and in other forums that it takes too long to pay at Wal-Mart, where sometimes only a few of the several checkout lanes are open and staffed with cashiers. While some retailers employ baggers to speed up the checkout process, at Wal-Mart one employee scans and bags items.

AP/Yonhap
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