advertisement
advertisement

Walmart’s CRM Gateway: Mobile Checkout?

Written by Evan Schuman
September 5th, 2012

Walmart’s two-day trial last week to test in-aisle mobile checkout was about everything other than accelerating the checkout process. The chain saw it as delivering everything from a back door into a CRM system (which Walmart has never had) to making coupons and other incentives several orders of magnitude more effective and even gathering in-store geolocation data for marketing analysis. (“We may have sold 50 TVs this week, but based on the number of people standing by that area for more than six minutes, it looks like we need to tweak pricing more.”)

When Walmart quietly (was it really intended to be quiet? More on that in a moment) ran this test at one store near the Bentonville mothership, many compared it with the chain’s self-checkout efforts. But this setup’s advantages make that particular function of minimal interest. Still, it’s the most palatable explanation to offer shoppers.

The test at that one store did not involve any customers and only allowed employees—and their “friends and family”—to participate. Given that it was an extremely limited test (two days, one store, no customers, iPhone-only), it’s by no means indicative of how the chain would actually use the technology. With that disclaimer out there, this is how the trial worked.

Shoppers scan each item as they work their way through the aisles. In this way, it enables real-time promotions, delivered at a point in the process where they are quite likely to change purchases—either to more profitable products or to those where the chain has a manufacturer incentive.

As StorefrontBacktalk was—shameless plug alert—quoted saying in The Wall Street Journal on August 31, this approach could effortlessly offer a coupon for a rival peanut-butter brand with a 75-cent off coupon. (If that Wall Street Journal link doesn’t work for you, here’s a screen capture of that page.) Done at checkout, it will likely be ignored, forgotten or lost (and perhaps all three). The chance of a large number of shoppers bringing that coupon back the next shopping trip is small. But if that offer is made while the shopper is still in the peanut-butter aisle? Much more compelling.

Back to the process. When the shopper is done and has filled a cart with dozens of items, she pushes the cart to the existing self-checkout lane. Given that the products have already been scanned, all that the shopper does is scan the single 2D barcode from the Walmart mobile app into the self-checkout system. That code includes the scans for all the products in her cart. The shopper then pays for the purchases through the self-checkout system, either swiping payment cards or paying with cash, whichever the machine accepts. The self-checkout POS prints out a regular hard-copy receipt and the order is complete.

It’s unclear how the process would deal with standard self-checkout security issues. Age- or quantity-restricted items (cigarettes, alcohol, some OTC pharmaceuticals, etc.) would presumably generate the same associate interventions as they do at today’s self-checkout systems, handled by the associate overseeing those self-checkout lanes.

Shoplifting issues would be a little trickier. Unlike traditional self-checkout orders, the overseeing associate—and, for that matter, security cameras—would not have the opportunity to watch shoppers scanning items because that scanning happens through the mobile device back in the aisles. So if someone—intentionally or unintentionally—didn’t scan (and, therefore, pay for) all the items, there’s no immediate trigger.

It would likely need to fall back on the random (or perhaps even complete) checking of receipts at the door, comparing the receipt list with the cart contents. Security cameras in the aisles would also likely watch for shoppers using the mobile app and then deliberately not scanning items placed in their carts.

To be clear, this process absolutely would accelerate checkout, given that a 58-item shopping cart would be scanned in literally the time it takes to scan a single barcode. That checkout acceleration, though, is simply not one of the most attractive aspects of this mobile program. It’s clearly attractive, but the other benefits have much greater strategic benefit.


advertisement

One Comment | Read Walmart’s CRM Gateway: Mobile Checkout?

  1. My Sales Dialer (CRM+) Says:

    even small retailers loving to go techno for CRM

Leave a Reply

Readers, specifically those who want to comment on a story:
Our Comment SPAM system is getting very aggressive these days and has been blocking legitimate comments. If you post a comment and don't see it appear within 2 hours or so, can you please send a heads-up to customer-service@storefrontbacktalk.com? Ideally, please include the time you posted the comment. That will allow us to try and hunt for it. Thanks! P.S. We're working on fixing the system, but we don't want to lose any valuable comments in the meantime.

Newsletters

StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 17,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!
advertisement

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

StorefrontBacktalk
Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.