Ever since Sam’s Club launched Scan & Go in 2016, we’ve known mobile checkout was coming to Walmart.

In fact, it’s on Target’s list of initiatives too, which leads us to believe it’s the way of the future. It’s the one thing Amazon can’t offer customers, although they are taking steps toward making Kohl’s stores into return centers.

This November, Walmart is adding Mobile Express Returns to its collection of effortless shopping initiatives like Online Grocery Pickup, Pickup Towers, Mobile Express Money Services and free two-day shipping.

You’ll see it available at all 4,700 Walmart stores, and Walmart is banking on the fact that it’ll be successful since 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store.

 

Mobile Express allows you to skip the long line at customer service to return your item.

Mobile Express is a two-step process. First, initiate your online return using the Walmart app, and follow the prompts to generate a QR code. Next, hit up the closest Walmart store, skip the line at customer service, and scan your QR code on the card reader at the cash wrap. That’s it. Just hand your item to the cashier like a package with a prepaid return label at the post office

By automating online returns, Walmart is trying to save you the headache of returning items you buy online. They’re crossing their fingers that hassle-free returns along with free two-day shipping on many items will boost online sales.

In December, you’ll see Walmart roll out an option inside the Walmart app to get instant refunds without even returning your item to a physical store. We’ll give you more on that as details become available.

 

But could automated purchases and returns make cashiers obsolete?

I’m not gonna lie — the short answer is yes.

Every time a brick and mortar retailer automates a part of the in-store shopping experience, it’s a signal that we will see a day when stores no longer need to employ cashiers in order for customers to make purchases.

It’s a necessary evil for big-box stores like Walmart and Target. They must innovate in order to compete with Amazon in the cutthroat world of e-commerce.

Industry-wide, brick-and-mortar sales are declining, and online sales are soaring. And Walmart’s timing is perfect with the holiday season approaching, where Amazon is poised to dominate the online shopping scene yet again in 2017.

 

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