Will Walmart’s ‘Scan and Go’ Eliminate the Need for Cashiers?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) is adding its new ‘Scan & Go’ technology to 20 additional stores in Canada on Monday. Using a scanner, the technology will allow shoppers to scan items while shopping and customers will be able to pay for their purchases at a till or during the self-checkout process. Customers will be able to avoid a cashier entirely and will only need to show their receipt upon exiting the store.

In the U.S., there is an app for mobile phones which eliminates the need for a physical scanner. Although Walmart claims this is not designed to replace cashiers, it seems inevitable that it will. In many retail stores customers already bag their own groceries and use self-checkouts to avoid cashiers. If customers had an app to expedite the self-checkout process that would make it more appealing to more tech savvy users.

Skeptics may say that a self-checkout system already exists and has failed to eliminate cashiers, and while that may be true, the system itself is not efficient and often has lines itself. If users can scan as they go rather than having to scan everything at once, it will be a more efficient process. Certainly older generations will likely be resistant to the technology and could still require the services of a cashier, but overall the demand for cashiers could significantly decline.

Although this is portrayed as a win for customers to expedite the checkout process, if stores wanted checkouts to be faster they would simply hire more cashiers. Walmart likely invested heavily into these technologies and it would be foolish to assume the low-cost giant doesn’t expect to see significant savings come as a result of this.