Tara Deschamps, Canadian press
Published Sunday, December 23, 2018 12:30 PM EST
Toronto – When Chris Cobain headed to Walmart, he feared the long lines at the cash register.
Therefore, an Toronto-based audio engineer was thrilled when he noticed portable scanners that enabled customers to print items while they were buying.
He tried the service, but found that the scanner was "inconvenient" and the system still requires him to use a ticket pass or communicate with the employee to pay.
"It took me longer to make my purchase of groceries, and then something happened and it all started," he said. "I did not feel it was faster."
Experience meant that he was not surprised when Walmart took the offer from his local store.
The approach, he and experts say, is a sign that portable and phone-based self-confidence generates mixed results for retailers.
A spokeswoman for Walmart, Anika Malik, did not say how many service locations are available and how much they still have, but said: "If the test does not give a result that works for our customers and our business, we have no problem moving on or trying to I find a way that works better. "
Malik said Walmart was trying to change the interface to the service and some of his features, but did not elaborate further.
Walmart's experience did not appear to exclude Canadian merchants. The food giant Loblaw has launched its "store and scan" offer at five Loblaws and three Real Canadian Superstores in the Greater Toronto area in November.
Loblaw spokeswoman Catherine Thomas said that feedback has been "really positive" so far, but she will not confirm if there were any plans to expand the service.
Meanwhile, Nordstrom Cancer and Dolamama also take care of portable scanners to speed up the outcome, but they have left scanners in the hands of shopkeepers.
The various approaches and success rates of such systems derive from consumers' behavior, said Michael LeBlanc, Senior Retail Advisor for the Canada's Retail Council.
He noted that buyers want manual self-confidence when buying a few items, but by allowing the cashier to ring for purchase, it is ideal when someone has a full cart or basket.
"(Manual self-test) is not for everyone and is not for any occasion," he said. "I know that some vendors have an app for the application, and some customers liked it, and some did not … It's not everything derived from the way you've been planning, but I think everyone appreciates what you're doing."
The fall of Valmart was not necessarily a technology, he added. Time can play a role.
"Is it just too soon or for which the buyers are not interested now?" He said. "You may be interested in that, but you are simply not ready to accept it. After all, we just do not know until you put it in the box and you do not test it."
A recent study by the retailer of LeBlanc Canada, Google Canada and the WisePlum consumer insight company found that Canadian buyers are "unwilling" to face buying problems, and retailers who do not offer "friction" will increasingly lose market share.
Younger buyers raised as "digital natives" will even more appreciate technology, the study found in mid-December.
While many criticize manual self-test as a killer for work, LeBlanc said most companies using such systems have not cut workers down.
And even AmazonSeattle, who uses sensors to detect products in wheelchairs and automatically charges consumer accounts, is still full of shelves for storing staff and helping buyers, LeBlanc said.
"If you start taking too many people out of your retail environment, the client's experience is not great," he said.
"So, you start thinking about how best to use your people, and sometimes it means taking someone from the front side who checks out (people) and moving them into the wine and cheese section and helping them to help people there" .
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