Like other retailers, Walmart is trying to figure out how to improve services while limiting person-to-person contact in a time of coronavirus.
Right now in the company’s Northwest Arkansas backyard, Walmart is running a pilot program to answer the question: Would it work if all checkout lanes were self-checkout?
Here’s what you need to know:
Walmart is testing a cashierless store right now.
The Walmart on Joyce Boulevard in Fayetteville, Arkansas has removed all standard checkout aisles — and cashiers — and is testing self-checkout only.
Corporate will be keeping an eye on this Supercenter, which is only about a 30-minute drive from Walmart headquarters.
Cashiers are being repurposed as ‘hosts.’
A Walmart blog shared that in the Fayetteville experiment, all the cashiers in the store have been transitioned to a new “Host” role. Hosts can be as involved or not involved in the checkout process as customers want — from simply pointing out an open register to scanning and bagging items.
Although speed isn’t the goal, Walmart expects the checkout process will be faster because overall, more lanes will be open because more lanes will be able to be squeezed into stores.
If all goes well, Walmart will expand self-checkouts.
The big question Walmart wants to answer in Fayetteville is whether self-checkout actually makes checkout faster. Without cashiers or conveyor belts, their prediction is that checkouts will take less time, which is good for the customer experience, and for social distancing.
Walmart hasn’t set a time frame for the Fayetteville test, but given how quickly Walmart has been moving in the midst of coronavirus, they should have a good idea by the end of summer.
Couponers, don’t worry — Walmart self-checkout accepts coupons.
Walmart was one of the first retailers to allow coupons in the self-checkout lanes, which is helpful if you’re a shy couponer.
When you’re done scanning your items, tap “Select Payment Type” on the screen, and select “Coupons.” You can then scan your manufacturer coupons.
If you hit a snag, you’re not on your own; there are self-checkout attendants who can assist you.
This is Walmart’s latest contact-free idea.
Back in March, when the coronavirus outbreak was keeping everybody at home, Walmart introduced a touch-free version of Walmart Pay at registers.
Now, there’s plenty of talk that they’re going to start accepting Apple Pay, too — another touchless option.