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Wal-Mart’s “Scan & Go” program will soon be in more than 200 U.S. stores, up from about 70. (Della Rollins For The Globe and Mail)
Wal-Mart’s “Scan & Go” program will soon be in more than 200 U.S. stores, up from about 70. (Della Rollins For The Globe and Mail)

Wal-Mart expands iPhone scan-and-checkout feature Add to ...

Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it is tripling the number of U.S. stores in a pilot program that lets shoppers scan items with their iPhones and pay at self-checkout counters.

Wal-Mart’s “Scan & Go” program will soon be in more than 200 stores, up from about 70. The pilot began near its home office in Bentonville, Ark. in late 2012, then expanded to Atlanta.

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While the program is tripling in size, for now it will be in only a small fraction of Wal-Mart’s more than 4,000 U.S. stores.

“We want our customer feedback to dictate the experience,” Gibu Thomas, senior vice-president of mobile and digital at Wal-Mart Global eCommerce, said this week. “You’ll see this roll out to more markets.”

For now, Scan & Go only works on Apple Inc. devices. An Android version should be out soon, Wal-Mart said.

With more than half of its shoppers using smartphones, Wal-Mart is trying to make shopping more convenient for shoppers who embrace mobile technology. More than half of the customers who have tried the Scan & Go feature have used it more than once, Mr. Thomas said.

Shoppers scan bar codes on items they want to buy, using the Wal-Mart app on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to keep track of the planned purchases and the total cost. Then they pay at a self-checkout screen, bypassing the typical registers.

As it expands the pilot test of Scan & Go, Wal-Mart is also adding self-checkout lanes to many more stores. Right now, about 1,500 stores have self-checkout lanes, and another 1,000 to 1,500 stores should get them this year, said Jeff McAllister, senior vice-president of Wal-Mart U.S. Innovations.

Wal-Mart is bringing Scan & Go into a dozen more markets: Denver, Colo.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Omaha, Neb.; Dallas and Austin, Tex.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Wyoming; Bozeman, Mon.; Seattle, Wash.; San Jose, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.

Users can get an electronic receipt along with a paper one. Wal-Mart has hinted digital coupons may be coming soon.

Scan & Go users pay in the traditional way, not via apps on their devices. The company declined to comment further on mobile payment possibilities.

Last year, Wal-Mart and other retailers joined together to develop Merchant Customer Exchange, a mobile payment network to try to match similar services from Google Inc. and eBay Inc., among others. No details have emerged on the project.

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