MOBILITY

Walmart deploying tech that lets in-store shoppers check out — on their own

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is helping more shoppers skip the checkout line.

Walmart is expanding the deployment of its Scan & Go mobile app, which is being tested in approximately 12 stores across Northwest Arkansas, Florida, Texas and Georgia. The chain is now rolling out the app for use in at least 10 additional locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Nashville markets. The stores will offer the solution by the end of the month, said Walmart spokesman Justin Rushing in an interview with Chain Store Age.

“A lot goes into the market selection, including both the commerce and customer density that make up each area,” he told Chain Store Age. “These are diverse markets to test new ideas. Our initial findings will determine how we will expand the program further.”

The free app allows members to scan merchandise bar codes as they move throughout store aisles and add merchandise to their shopping carts. The app also keeps a running total and itemized list of merchandise and prices, and lets shoppers checkout directly through their smartphone.

In addition to internal metrics, Walmart will also rely on customer feedback to learn from the test.

“This is not the complete solution, it is only a part of multichannel process in the front end that will ultimately help customers shop the way they want to,” Rushing said.

“By listening to customers, we will be able to find what they want in terms of speed and convenience, and in the end provide a faster shopping experience,” he added. “By testing different things, we can determine the future of Scan & Go. Knowing this is our entry into Scan & Go, we want to make sure we get it just right before moving on across the chain.”

Walmart has also redesigned the participating stores’ front ends to be an “express bullpen area” where shoppers can show their order barcode to an associate before leaving. Once scanned, they are approved to pay for goods through the app.

“They also use this area to bag groceries, and complete confirmations of fresh groceries,” Rushing said.

For example, throughout their shopping trip, customers can weigh their fresh merchandise on scales located across the store. They type in the variety of produce into the app, along with its weight. The app serves up a price that is confirmed at the checkout bullpen.

While Rushing didn’t share further expansion plans, he did say the company is committed to the technology. “We do not yet have any plans to expand beyond where we are going this month,” he said. “For now, we are focused on getting the new technology more saturated in these two markets, and then will drive the experience so our customers can tell us what working best.”

Scan & Go is an example of how Walmart is testing new solutions to streamline its customer experiences. The program comes on the heels of Sam’s Club’s chainwide rollout of the technology last fall. Upon launching the technology, there was a 10% spending increase among app shoppers compared to those who don’t use it. Nearly 80% of shoppers who try Scan & Go use it again within 90 days, according to Sam's Club.

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ECOMMERCE

Gallup survey: U.S. grocery shoppers buck online shopping trend — for now

BY Marianne Wilson

Shopping for groceries online has a long way to go before it catches on with the vast majority of U.S. consumers.

Nine percent of U.S. adults report that their household shop online for groceries at least once a month, including 4% who do it at least weekly, according to Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits survey. By contrast, almost all Americans say someone in their family shops for groceries in person at least once a month, with 83% going at least once a week.

This pattern — highly frequent grocery shopping occurring mostly in person — highlights the possibility for enormous growth that exists in the online grocery business, the survey reported. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market recently underscored this possibility, giving rise to speculation the online giant will use the grocery chain as a launching pad to expand its online operations into the food sector, according to the survey.

In the report, Gallup noted that while the vast majority of consumers still mostly do their grocery shopping in person, this may change, with experts asserting the traditional grocery business may be in a situation similar to that of department stores in recent years, with more retail space than the market can sustain.

“Traditional grocery stores may find their market share continuing to erode because of changing shopping patterns, particularly online shopping, and may be forced to maintain viability by cutting costs and reducing service, the report said.

Here are some key findings from the Gallup report:

• Fifteen percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 29 say they purchase groceries online at least monthly, similar to the 12% among those 30 to 49 and 10% of those 50 to 64.

• A negligible 2% of those aged 65 and older shop for groceries online at least once a month. At the same time, however, age has little relationship to shopping in person at grocery stores, which is nearly universal across all age groups.

•Americans living in the eastern U.S. and those residing in cities are modestly more likely than their counterparts to go grocery shopping online.

• Working adults, perhaps because they have less time to shop, are almost twice as likely as those who are not working to do their grocery shopping online.

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ECOMMERCE

Regional grocer anticipates Prime expansion

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Sprouts Farmers Market doesn't plan on backing out of its partnership with Amazon any time soon.

Despite Amazon’s recent announcement to purchase of Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market plans to continue its role as an Amazon Prime Now delivery partner. More so, the grocer expects the program to extend to more than half of its store network, according to Food Navigator-USA.

Shorter-term, Sprouts anticipates that 20 stores will be participating in the program by year’s end. As the company looks ahead, it anticipates that “one-third to 40% or 50% of stores” could be part of the program, the report said.

“The key point is that it helps us extend our trade area,” Amin Maredia, Sprouts CEO, said in the report.

Through the partnership, Amazon Prime members get free two-hour grocery delivery on orders over $20. Orders are fulfilled and delivered by Sprouts, the report said.

Sprouts operates more than 275 stores in 15 states.

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