In a race to woo customers with a smooth shopping experience, Walmart Canada added more self-checkout kiosks and improvements to the "scan and go" system where buyers scan their items when they shop.
It seems to "scan and go," in its current form, not "go away" to many customers.
Physical retailers scramble to make shopping more comfortable while also trying to reduce costs in an era where almost anything can be purchased online. But this is a trial and error game where customers will not always buy.
"This is a very challenging time for retailers," said Brynn Winegard, a Toronto-based marketing and retail expert. "They are pressured to find out what consumers want and encourage the profitability of homes,"
& # 39; Scan and go & # 39; renovation
Walmart Canada made headlines last year when it announced the launch of "scanning and going" in 20 locations.
This system requires customers to take a portable scanner in the store and use it to scan barcodes on their items before placing them in the shopping basket. The scanner calculates bills and customers pay at checkout or use self-checkout.
A year later, Walmart quietly lowered the system to only three stores. In the US, retailers ignore it completely.
Walmart Canada will not specify why the concept cannot be overcome except to say that it is currently testing improvements to technology, including new scanner interfaces and additional features.
"We often test and try new things in our business," Walmart Canada spokesman Anika Malik said in an email. "The way our customers shop changes and we continue to innovate to meet their needs."
Malik said the same rule applies to self-checkout kiosks. He won't give a figure, but says Walmart continues to add it to the store to offer more choices and convenience to customers.
However, some buyers complained to CBC News that their local Walmart sometimes does not offer cashier options, only self-checkout, either in the morning or late at night.
"I can only order it on Amazon if that's what they want," said Cody Nolan. He went to Walmart in Brockville, Ontario. last week at 10 pm and said, a lot of disappointment, there was no open cash register.
"I'm a little old-school. I actually like talking to cashiers when I make a payment."
Last week, Ashlyn Skocdopole said she was also stuck using self-checkout for carts full of groceries because there was no cashier open at Lake Sylvan, Alta., Walmart at 8:30 a.m.
"It's frustrating. The machine keeps going and says I need help." Meanwhile, he tried to watch over his two-year-old son.
"It's uncomfortable," said Skocdopole.
Walmart spokesman Malik said the company's goal is to have a cashier option available at all times and if nothing is open, customers can request it.
He also said that many buyers value self-checkout and that technology has resulted in no jobs being lost. Instead, he said some employees had been put back into other positions such as customer support for independent payments.
There is no doubt retail is heading for a more automated format that will change the type of work involved and, ultimately, the way we shop.
But there will be hiccups along the way. Retail expert Steve Tissenbaum considers the self-checkout kiosk, which is now widely offered by retailers, as one of those hiccups.
"That might be more of a gap between technology that is more intellectual or more capable," said Tissenbaum, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management from Ryerson University.
Already, the retailer is testing another format to see what's stuck.
For those who still crave human touch, Walmart and Target in the US have each recently launched a "scan and entry" system where employees do work.
Workers equipped with mobile devices scan and inspect customer items in the busy part of the store. Customers can use debit or credit to pay on the spot.
Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding the cashier-less concept – Amazon Go. In this shop, customers don't even need to scan their items.
Instead, they only take what they want and get out, thanks to technology that detects when a product is removed from store shelves.
Customers are billed via their Amazon account.
Since the beginning of the year, the online retail giant has opened six Amazon Go stores in the US and is reportedly considering opening up to over 3,000 in the next few years.
Walmart also plans to launch a cashierless store this month at one of Sam's locations in Texas. Large-scale stores, only members will use "scan and go" technology, but members will download the application to scan and pay for items through their smartphone.
Walmart said it would also have employees called "host members" who would offer assistance in the store.
"When shopping preferences develop, we will give members and customers the choice to shop in new ways," said Walmart U.S. spokesman Carrie McKnight in an email.
As for buyers, they can be sure that if they don't buy into a new shopping concept, the other, a different format will likely follow soon.