Walmart: Check It Out

May 17, 2018
Walmart: Check It Out

Consumers can check out Walmart’s “Check out with me” technology to pay for their Lawn & Garden Center purchases at 350 stores across the country.

Walmart associates, toting cellular devices and Bluetooth printers, scan heavy items like bags of mulch while it’s still on the shelf, saving customers the hassle of loading it into carts and pushing it back into the store to fixed checkout stations.  The technology will also assist customers outdoors in the live plant and potting soil areas.

The system is being tested in Lawn & Garden Centers, because that is where it is most needed to improve the customer check out experience.  However, eventually it could be used elsewhere in the store as well.  If successful, the system could be implemented at Walmart’s 4700 U.S. locations.

Walmart may also have checkout-free technology in the works to battle Amazon’s Whole Foods or the new Amazon Go stores, where customers can just pick up their items and leave while cameras, sensors, and AI technology track and charge them for their purchases.

This post is based on the Retail Leader article, Walmart makes more digital moves, by Gina Acosta, April 23, 2018; and on the Tech Crunch article, Walmart launches “Check Out With Me” for on-the-spot checkouts in hundreds of US stores, by Sarah Perez, April 19, 2018. Image source: © Paul Bradbury / age fotostock.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does “Check Out With Me” tie in with Walmart’s operations strategy?

Guidance: Like McDonald’s, two of Walmart’s key strategies are low cost and short processing time.  This is highlighted in a recent statement in the article by Walmart president and CEO, Doug McMillon, who reports that “We’ve had an exciting year.  We made great progress accelerating innovation to save customers both money and time.”

Streamlining the checkout process saves customers time, cuts down on the number of physical checkout stands needed, and helps Walmart compete with retailers like Amazon Go stores, where customers don’t have to check out at all, but instead can just take items and pay via sensory technology and cameras that track their actions in the store.  Nominating McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to Walmart’s board should help Walmart as it works to improve its global business operations as well.

2. How else can the “Check Out With Me” technology benefit Walmart stores?

Guidance: CEO Doug McMillon anticipates the system will increase efficiencies in inventory tracking and performing routine tasks.  In addition, reducing the sometimes long lines that customers experience at Walmart means more floor space could be freed up as physical checkout lanes are minimized and merchandise space increases.   The investment in these emerging technologies may change the look and layout of stores over time, as well as the mix of employees needed to staff them.

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