Walmart has begun testing an iPhone-based self-checkout system in one of its Arkansas stores, making it the second major retailer (aside from Apple itself) to try such a system. First reported by Reuters, Walmart is reportedly using employees first to test the new checkout system, which would allow shoppers to scan their own items with an iPhone and pay for them without having to stop by a cashier or a self-checkout counter.
Walmart has not made any formal announcements about its plans, so it's possible that this iPhone test may not spread to other retail stores. However, the company did acknowledge that it's open to testing new features that would make shopping easier for customers. "We're continually testing new and innovative ways to serve customers and enhance the shopping experience in our stores," Walmart spokesman David Tovar told Reuters.
Apple began using its own Apple Store app for this purpose late last year for some—but not all—items at its retail stores. Shoppers can walk into a store, make a selection from a wall of iOS and Mac accessories, and then scan and pay for their purchases entirely through the app. They can leave the store without ever having to speak with a retail employee. In my experience, this process usually works quite smoothly and I have not yet been hassled by employees while leaving the store, though there has been at least one report of an alleged attempt to use Apple's EasyPay system gone wrong.