Walmart this morning announced a new plan to help its retail store customers complete their purchases – even if the items they want aren’t available on the store’s shelves. The retailer says it will arm its sales associates with a new in-store app that will allow them to assist shoppers by helping them find and pay for items from Walmart.com, then have it shipped to the store or to the customer’s home.
The customers will receive a receipt or email they can use to pay at the register in the store, after completing ordering process with the sales associate’s help, Walmart says. And the item will ship immediately after the customer makes the payment at checkout.
The move to better connect the brick-and-mortar operation with Walmart.com’s e-commerce site should not be surprising – it’s something Target shoppers have been able to do for over a year now, in fact. Back in October 2017, Target said that its store staff would now be able to use their in-store device to create online orders for customers when local merchandise was not available. Target’s system even includes a mobile credit card reader for easier checkout.
Amazon also now operates its own brick-and-mortar locations beyond Whole Foods, including its cashierless Amazon Go stores, its bookstores, pop-ups, and its newer 4-star stores.
Walmart has also been experimenting with and rolling out mobile checkout to its stores, but that doesn’t appear to be part of this new initiative. Its mobile checkout system, “Check Out With Me,” was first rolled out to its Garden Centers, where it can be cumbersome to haul heavy merchandise to the register.
For the holidays, it expanded the system to other high-traffic areas of the store, including the electronics section and “action alley” — the areas featuring special promotions in the aisles.
While it may be more convenient to pay directly with the sales associate during the ordering process, it’s likely that many Walmart shoppers taking advantage of the new service came in for more than just the one item, and are planning to visit a register anyway.
In addition, the customers will be able to pay cash for online purchases. That’s something that could help Walmart.com better serve the under-banked customer base – without requiring them to buy a gift card or load cash onto a Walmart MoneyCard by Green Dot first.
Walmart says customers at its stores can choose to pay for the purchases with checks, credit cards, or Walmart Pay, as well, when completing their purchase at the register. The service is available across 4,700 Walmart stores and will be offered year-round. For the time being, it supports items sold on Walmart.com, not marketplace items – but that will change in the future. (The app is not available in Arkansas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.)
“The Dotcom store offers customers even more assortment options than what’s on our physical shelves — whether that be different sizes, colors or varieties,” said Tom Ward, head of Walmart’s digital and central operations,” in a statement.