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Walmart May Remove This Key Area From Its Stores for Good

The retail giant hopes the change will increase efficiency and safety.

Well, this isn't great news for anyone who loathes self-checkout stands.

The world's largest retailer, Walmart, is seriously considering replacing all of its traditional checkout lanes and workers with self-checkout stations.

The retail giant is conducting a trial run first at a Walmart superstore location in Fayetteville, Arkansas,  reports Fox Business. Traditional conveyor belt lanes there are currently being replaced with only self-checkout counters.

The experiment will determine if the DIY approach to scanning and paying for your items at Walmart will be more efficient, faster, and safer for shoppers—especially during the coronavirus pandemic when person-to-person interactions are the riskiest way to spread the virus. (Employees will reportedly still be available to help with self-checkout, though.)

If all goes well, the switch-over to self-checkout kiosks would then be rolled out in Walmart locations nationwide—but the timing of when this happens at each location will depend on customer and employee feedback.

It's important to note that Walmart had this same idea a long time ago in order to cut costs, but gave it up about two years ago. The retailer had offered its so-called "Mobile Scan & Go" technology in about 150 Walmart stores after it had successfully been offered at its Sam's Club warehouse chain. While the tech worked well at a warehouse retail environment that sold fewer products, it was confusing to many Walmart shoppers who provided negative feedback on the scanning, weighing, and bagging process.

Now, COVID-19 has the world's largest retailer reconsidering, as more grocery shoppers are placing a much higher value on health and safety. Grocery stores present a risk for the transmission of aerosolized droplets that could contain the contagion. Walmart has even faced a wrongful death lawsuit from the estate of an associate who succumbed to the virus in late March.

To protect its staff and shoppers, Walmart has been aggressive on introducing new policies, some of which have received mixed reviews. While mandatory mask-wearing by associates has largely been well received, one-way shopping aisles and an early, seniors-only shopping hour have been widely panned.

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