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Walmart is Testing Technology That Would Let Customers Skip Checkout Lines

Jaime Vado fixes a display in the aisle at a Walmart store in November 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

This post was originally published in Business Insider.

Walmart is testing a technology that would allow customers to skip checkout lines and pay for purchases with their smartphones instead, the Washington Post reports.

The so-called “scan and go” technology sounds exactly like what Amazon is planning to implement in its new chain of grocery stores, which the company is calling Amazon Go. Amazon revealed plans for its new stores in December. The company said shoppers will be able to use an app to add products to a digital shopping cart, then walk out of the building with their purchases without waiting in a checkout line. Payment for the products will be handled through the app.

Walmart is testing similar checkout capabilities as it looks for ways to make shopping in its stores easier and more convenient. The company announced Tuesday that it’s launching a number of updates to its app that will speed up trips to the pharmacy and money services department. The updates will start rolling out in stores in March and be available in all Walmart’s US stores by the fall.

With the changes, customers will be able to refill prescriptions through the Walmart app and skip the line when they arrive at the store to pick them up. There will be a new “express” line at the pharmacy where customers can scan a code on their app that notifies pharmacy staff of their arrival. Then a worker will deliver their prescription to them.

The money services update will enable customers to fill out forms on their phones, which they previously had to complete in stores. Like at the pharmacy, there will be an “express” lane for customers who have already filled out the paperwork to quickly complete their transactions using a code on their phones.

Walmart is also going after Amazon online. The retailer just rolled out free two-day shipping on 2 million items for orders that are more than $35. All Walmart customers will qualify for the free two-day shipping. There are no fees, and no enrollment in membership programs is required. In comparison, Amazon offers free two-day shipping only to members of its Prime program, who pay $99 annually for membership.

When Walmart rolled out its new shipping option in late January, other Amazon users could qualify for free shipping — but without the two-day delivery — on orders of $49 or more. Amazon just dropped that threshold to $35 in what was likely a response to Walmart. 

See Also: Amazon strikes back at Walmart’s free 2-day shipping offer