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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Leery’ customers prompt Walmart to shelve self-scanning service

This June 1, 2017 photo, shows a Walmart sign at a store in Hialeah Gardens, Fla. (Alan Diaz / Associated Press)
By Matthew Boyle Bloomberg

Walmart has ended a service where customers could ring up their own purchases, showing that old habits die hard even in the digital age.

The retailer had offered its so-called “Mobile Scan & Go” technology in about 150 Walmart stores, after a successful rollout across its Sam’s Club warehouse chain. But while the service worked in Sam’s – which carries fewer products, all of which are prepackaged – it confused some Walmart shoppers, who found that bagging, weighing and then scanning items including fresh fruit and vegetables was a hassle.

Walmart’s Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs admitted as much at an investor conference in March, saying that there were things that “make the customer maybe a little more leery of Scan & Go.” Customers could use a handheld device or their own smartphone to scan their goods.

The service forced shoppers to change their habits, and the enormous number of items in a typical Walmart basket complicated the process, according to Neil Stern, a senior partner at retail consultants McMillanDoolittle.

“Even though scan-and-go technology has been around for some time, consumers still don’t seem to embrace it the way we anticipated,” he said.

The service will remain at Sam’s Club, where its usage doubled last year, according to Sam’s Chief Executive Officer John Furner. Walmart is testing a potential replacement, called “Check Out With Me,” where employees can ring up a customer’s order and scan their payment card from a handheld device inside the store. The new service is available in more than 350 lawn and garden centers.