Gizmos & Gadgets: Walmart Starts Roll Out of a “Scan & Go” App to Compete with Amazon Go

January 15, 2018 – In the retail war going on between bricks & mortar stores and online shopping, the former has been taking quite the beating of late leading to the closing or cutting back of site locations by many large retailers. Supermarkets are not being left out of the equation as online retailers like Amazon move aggressively into blending bricks & mortar with the convenience of click and buy shopping.

Here in Canada, Loblaw, the largest supermarket chain in the country, is taking its first steps to blend the online shopping experience with a curbside pickup or home delivery service in select locations. Kroger, the U.S. supermarket giant is also launching a scan, bag and go service in 400 of its locations. But no one has been working harder at attempting to combine bricks & mortar with online convenience than Walmart, the U.S. retail, and supermarket giant. That’s because they hear Amazon’s footsteps closing in.

Amazon Go pioneered the “pick & go” retail experience with the launch of a pilot store in Seattle over a year ago. That store which I featured in a blog posting in December of 2016, had no checkout counters. Users opened an Amazon account on their smartphones. When entering the store they received a digital boarding pass. Items they picked and placed in their carts got automatically tracked. If they took an item out and put it back on a shelf, the store knew to deduct that from the final accounting. When finished they walked out of the store with goods in hand while the app billed their Amazon account.

Amazon in June of last year went even further with the purchase of Whole Foods, the grocery store chain. To Walmart, this move was more than a wakeup call. Before the purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon had announced its intentions to build 2,000 grocery stores across the United States over the next decade. The Whole Foods purchase probably had accelerated that timetable dramatically.

Walmart needed an answer to the Amazon challenge. And it is not for want of trying since the company anticipated Amazon’s move some years ago and began its own attempts with test programs in stores over the last five years. But nothing has worked all that well in Walmart’s attempts at pick and click purchasing with many user complaints. It is hoped by Walmart in this latest effort that they have finally solved the challenges experienced by previous application attempts.

Called Scan & Go, the app is available for Android and Apple devices. At the Google Play store page, the app gets a 4 out of 5-star rating so far from 1,900 users. It shows 17 company stores currently listed as places where Scan & Go can be used. And Walmart has announced its plans to have more than 100 additional retail locations using the app by the end of this month.



How does it work?

  1. Install the app on your smartphone.
  2. Go to one of the Walmart stores where Scan & Go can be used.
  3. In the store open the app and as you shop scan each item and place them in your cart.
  4. To check out press the payment app button on your smartphone.
  5. Show the onscreen digital receipt to a greeter as you leave the store.

This is not quite as sophisticated as Amazon Go, but it’s certainly a lot better than self-checkout scanners and systems found in many supermarket and retail stores today and may stick this time becoming the way most of us shop for groceries in the near future.



Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...