Retail

Walmart Tests Store Without Cashiers As COVID-19 Accelerates Change

Whether cashiers go the way of the horse and buggy could hinge on an experiment Walmart is running in Arkansas.

The largest brick-and-mortar retailer in the United States is replacing its traditional, cashier-staffed checkouts with self-checkout registers at its store in Fayetteville, Ark., according to local news reports.

The aim is to speed up checkout lines while reducing contact, a Walmart spokesperson told KNWA/KFTA, with employees stationed nearby to help shoppers who run into any problems with the new system.

If the pilot is successful, Walmart may move ahead with a wider rollout of cashierless stores.

The Arkansas experiment comes as Walmart embarks on a major overhaul on how it interacts with its customers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walmart last month launched Walmart Pay, its touch-free payment system, while expanding the ability of customers to shop online by rolling a number of apps into one central Walmart app.

Walmart reported a 74 percent surge in online revenue during the first quarter of 2020 as coronavirus lockdown measures took hold across the country, with grocery items helping lead the charge. Walmart also saw a substantial 10 percent jump in comparable store sales over the same period in 2019.

Still, Walmart’s interest in self-checkout predates the coronavirus and mirrors a growing push by supermarket chains to augment, if not replace cashiers, with self-checkout stations.

In January, Walmart dispensed with cashiers at its Neighborhood Market store in Coral Way, Fla. This store of the future also offered a Check Out With Me program that allows shoppers to check out and pay through scanner-wielding employees around the store, as well as online grocery pickup and same-day delivery.

“By expanding self-checkout and adding Check Out With Me, associates will be on the sales floor where they can help customers — fast,” Patrick Shanks regional vice president of Walmart’s Neighborhood Market Operations, in a blog post.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: HOW WE SHOP – SEPTEMBER 2020 

The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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