Oh, Canada, your newest Walmart “Urban Supercentre Concept” in Toronto will feature a host of new retail concepts including a “Fast Lane” version of cashierless checkout for people using the My Walmart app.
According to a press announcement sent out this week, this new Walmart Supercentre lets shoppers use the My Walmart app to scan items as they shop. When they are ready to check out, shoppers go to the Fast Lane and scan a barcode on the app and their credit card on file is automatically charged. The store will have additional associates on hand to help, and, presumably, make sure you aren’t stealing anything.
This isn’t Walmart’s first bout with cashierless checkout. As Grocery Dive notes, last year the retailer had tried expanding its version of “Scan & Go” to 125 stores in the U.S., but later ditched the program because people weren’t using it and the technology didn’t scale. Elsewhere in the Walmart universe, it’s subsidiary Sam’s Club launched a Sam’s Club Now store at the end of last year that required the Scan & Go app to shop there.
More recently, Walmart launched its IRL store in Levittown, NY, which is outfitted with banks of cameras and high-tech sensors to monitor inventory in real time. While IRL didn’t launch with cashierless checkout, the fact that Walmart invested so much in computer vision capabilities for the store suggests that type of functionality isn’t too far away.
Walmart’s moves come at a time when cashierless checkout is heating up. In addition to Amazon Go, which pioneered the field (and was forced into accepting cash), there are a number of well-funded startups looking to retrofit grocery stores with cashierless checkout capabilities.
While cashierless checkout is still a ways away from being mainstream, Walmart isn’t sitting idly by (its proactive nature is one of the reasons we named the company to our Food Tech 25 list). Scan & Go feels like an intermediary step, but it’s a step in the right direction towards our inevitably cashierless checkout future.