Walmart testing cashier-free Supercenter

Date : 15 June 2020

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Walmart has converted a large-format Supercenter to self-checkout only.

Supporting a safe shopping environment

Fox Business reports that Walmart has converted a store in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to self-checkout as part of a test to determine if the change will provide a safer experience for shoppers. As part of retailers’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, we identified providing a safe shopping environment and enhancing checkout flexibility as key areas which will influence store operations. Within the test store, staff are also available to support customers.

Source: IGD Research

Builds on earlier tests

While this test is in response to the pandemic, Walmart has been evaluating similar solutions elsewhere. Following the launch of a self-checkout only store in Chile last year, in January it opened a Neighborhood Market in Florida with a similar set-up. The key difference with this latest test, is the scale of the format, around four times larger than the store in Miami. The retailer has made significant progress with self-checkouts, including deploying AI technology to help improve the accuracy of customer scans and reduce error rates.

Accelerating checkout-free concepts

The pandemic is likely to accelerate retailers’ plans for the deployment of checkout technologies, especially those which support a contactless experience. These include self-scanning solutions, which several retailers have moved rapidly to deploy in recent months, and fully autonomous, or checkout-free, concepts. Prior to the pandemic, Amazon launched the Amazon Go Grocery format. At 14,000 sq ft it is one of the largest checkout-free concepts to be developed. With the retailer also recently moving to make this technology available to other retailers under licence, we expect to see a more rapid roll-out of similar concepts, although they will be mainly focused on smaller store formats initially.

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