My First Experience Using Walmart Scan & Go

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Working for a company in the mobile commerce space, I love to try out new ways to shop and understand how retailers are using mobile to enhance the shopping experience. So it was time for me to fire up the Walmart app to see how it’s doing with the Scan & Go beta.

If you’re not familiar with Scan & Go, this is a new addition to Walmart’s app that focuses on the in-store experience. Shoppers can scan items as they shop and quickly self check-out by scanning a QR code. The app also offers an easy way to create and add items to a Walmart shopping list and also apply coupons right from the phone. The Scan & Go feature is in beta right now and is available in a limited number of Walmart stores.

How thoughtful of my girlfriend to insist that I accompany her to Walmart to do some intense shopping for… nail polish and cotton balls. Oh, the things I do… So as we’re making these hard choices in the cosmetics section, she found some nail polish she liked but it was out of place and she couldn’t find the price.

Me: “Oh! Let me use Scan & Go!”

Girlfriend: Well, she didn’t say anything. She was on a mission to find one of those barcode scanners hanging on a pole somewhere.

Me: “Wait! Let’s use the app!”

Entering Store Mode

Right when I open the Walmart app, it instantly recognizes that I’m in a Walmart store and asks if I want to switch to Store Mode. Store Mode allows shoppers to use the new Scan & Go feature among other store-specific features. This activity of magically recognizing that I’m in the store is great. Although I do still have to complete the additional step by confirming I want to enter Store Mode, the actual “check-in” step that we’ve all become familiar with due to successful location-based apps like Foursquare is skipped. Obviously an automatic check-in becomes complex with an app like Foursquare because of the millions of locations with close proximity to another store or restaurant. But, if Walmart would just get rid of the Store Mode confirmation screen, that’d be even more seamless. Who’s opening the Walmart app inside a Walmart and doesn’t want to enter Store Mode?

Scanning a Barcode

So I enter Store Mode and I’m ready to scan… and go. Right? Well, not so fast. In order to use Scan & Go, I have to sign in or create a Walmart account. So on the first screen I enter my first and last name to create an account. Then another screen where I have to enter my email address and enter and re-enter a password. Okay, NOW I’m ready to start scanning some barcodes and see how this thing works. But by this time, my girlfriend has already made it from the cosmetics section at the front of the store to the automotive section in the far back-right corner of the store searching for a price check scanner. Yes, she surely heard me say multiple times, “Wait, I can check the price right here on my phone!… Wait!” But I think when a woman is in shopping mode, she has this incredible selective hearing ability that I thought was only possible with men on Sundays during football season.

So I find her in the automotive section after unnecessarily burning some extra calories, and I’m able to steal the 1 of 3 items she hasn’t scanned yet. I scan the barcode of this (I’m assuming) beautiful nail polish. Unlike some barcode scanning apps were I have to work to situate the barcode just perfect on my phone’s screen, the app instantly picked up the barcode and displayed the product details page along with a detailed description and reviews. Plus, the item was instantly added to my cart. Very cool, right? But what if you were just browsing and wanted to read the product descriptions or reviews? Well, you’d have to click on your cart and remove the item, which I tried out. I didn’t see a delete button, so let me just share how this conversation went:

Me: “How do I delete this item?”

Girlfriend: “Swipe left.”

Me: “That worked. How did you know?”

Girlfriend: “Uhhh. Common sense.”

Bottom line, the cart functionality is simple and intuitive if you have a brain that halfway functions.

Checking Out

So I’ve scanned the 3 items we want to buy and I’m ready to pay. The app has easy-to-follow instructions to self check-out to complete the transaction. So we head to the self-checkout line and wait for our turn. Once at the touch screen, I see a “Transfer Scan & Go” button larger than any other payment option, which makes it easy to continue. After pressing the button, I’m asked to scan the QR code, which transfers my cart from the Walmart app to the touch screen, and I can then pay using cash or a credit card without having to scan my items at the counter. Easy enough.

But what about paying right from the phone? Sure I save time by not having to scan all my items once I reach the register, but I could save more time if I didn’t have to wait in line at the self-checkout lane to pay. If I could pay by phone when I’m done shopping, I could just show my receipt to either the associate overseeing the self-checkout lanes or even the greeter as I walk out.

Creating a Shopping List

The list functionality is very cool. To make a shopping list, I can add an item by typing a search term, say the product to return relevant results, or simply scan item barcodes at home or in the store to make my next trip to Walmart that much easier. I can also easily adjust the quantities by simply clicking a plus or minus button.

Finding and Redeeming Coupons

I also found the mobile coupon functionality easy to use. I can search for coupons I might like to use and “clip” them. Then when I view an item on my phone, the associated coupons show up under the product info and are easily applied to my order. I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to sort through direct mail or the newspaper to find coupons, so now Walmart makes it easy to redeem these coupons and shoppers don’t have to remember to bring them into the store.

This is where I see continued improvement coming. After my shopping trip, Walmart now knows a heck of a lot more about me. For instance, now they know I love cotton balls and I’m a sucker for mint-colored nail polish. Surely in the near future, I’ll be receiving personalized notifications from Walmart that match my shopping patterns.

Final Verdict

So, all in all, my first experience using Walmart Scan & go was… excellent! I’m sure we’ll see some numbers in the future that show Walmart’s awesome success with Scan & Go just as we’ve seen with the insane success of the Starbucks app with over 10 million active users and 4.5 million mobile transactions each week.