I shopped at Walmart using the ‘Scan & Go’ feature on its mobile app, and I didn’t have to interact with a single person in the store

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walmart scan and go in person thumb

  • Walmart+ members can scan items in-store and pay for their entire cart from their phones.
  • Scan & Go is fast and easy to use, and it limits direct contact with store employees. 
  • It works best if the regular checkout line is busy and you don’t need to buy produce or alcohol.

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There are many ways to get your weekly groceries from Walmart, including shopping in person, picking up an online order at the store, or having your items shipped directly to your home.

Members of Walmart’s premium Walmart+ program have another option. Scan & Go is a Walmart app feature that promises to streamline the store shopping experience and reduce in-person contact, so you can get on your way quickly and safely. 

I tested Scan & Go at my local Walmart to see whether it really made shopping easier and whether it’s a valuable benefit of the Walmart+ membership ($12.95/month). In my experience, the feature isn’t perfect, but it works well under the right circumstances. 

How Walmart’s mobile Scan & Go feature works

First, you need to download the Walmart shopping app. You can find Scan & Go in the Services menu at the bottom of the app. 

walmart scan and go opening menu
Find Scan & Go in the Services tab of the Walmart app.

You must be near or inside a store in order for the Scan & Go feature to activate. My app was a bit finicky in the beginning and kept saying I wasn’t near a store. After about six tries, I was finally able to activate Scan & Go. 

From there, the process was easy and intuitive. For any item I wanted to add to my cart, I just scanned its barcode with my phone camera. The barcode scanner worked quickly and perfectly every time, and I didn’t even need to stand that close to the item. 

walmart scan and go scanning an item
The barcode scanner uses your phones camera to quickly and accurately add items to your cart.

The app keeps a running list of all the items you’ve scanned so far and a cart subtotal. You can adjust the quantity or delete an item if you no longer need it. 

walmart scan and go full cart list
You can view and adjust the contents of your cart at any time.

You can also exit the Scan & Go feature at any time. Walmart will save your cart’s contents and won’t charge you. 

You can scan most items in the store. The two exceptions, however, are inconvenient: 

  1. Produce that needs to be weighed: Produce must be brought to the self-checkout station to be weighed. 
  2. Alcohol: Alcohol can only be purchased at a regular checkout station because a store associate needs to check your ID. 

walmart scan and go error messages
A couple of the error or warning messages you might see while using Scan & Go. The one on the right pops up when you try to scan alcohol.

Once you’re done shopping, you can’t just walk right out of the store – you must stop by the self-checkout area and scan a QR code on one of the station’s screens. 

walmart scan and go qr code finalize checkout
You’ll spot the QR code immediately on the screen.

walmart scan and go finalize checkout
Some of the final steps and questions in the checkout process.

Then, you’ll complete your payment on your phone with the card on file. Payment is quick and you’ll receive your receipt right away. 

walmart scan and go checkout and receipt
The final parts of the process went smoothly, and I left the store without directly interacting with any employees.

How Scan & Go compares to a regular shopping and checkout experience

For consistency, I bought the same six items (strawberries, prosciutto, jam, a personal blender, leggings, and sunscreen) twice, once with Scan & Go, and once with regular checkout. 

Scan & Go is well-designed and made it as easy as possible for me to buy the items on my list and get in and out of the store quickly. Perhaps because it was a new feature and system to learn, it still felt slightly clunky for me to pull out my phone every time to scan an item, then make sure it made it into the app’s cart. The inability to directly scan weighed produce and alcohol – while understandable – are big drawbacks to the feature, and so I’d only recommend Scan & Go if you’re buying everything except produce and alcohol. I had no problem shopping for clothing, appliances, and packaged foods, and you shouldn’t either. 

walmart scan and go in person checkout
My line moved quickly, but it did put me in proximity of several people.

Shopping without Scan & Go also went well, though in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, you might be wary to interact directly with store employees, and that’s where the contactless nature of Scan & Go excels. I visited my local Walmart on a Tuesday morning and it wasn’t too busy then: There were two manned checkout stations open, and three to four people in a line to each. The line moved quickly. 

  Scan & Go mobile app Regular shopping and checkout
Total time spent in the store  19 minutes 15 minutes
Pros
  • Lets you shop and check out independently and contact-free
  • Barcode scanner is quick and accurate 
  • The step-by-step process from adding an item to final checkout is organized and well-designed 
  • Digital receipt only
  • Adding items to your cart is less clunky 
  • Likely to be faster if your store isn’t busy 
  • No limits to product types 
Cons
  • You must buy weighed produce and alcohol separately 
  • App may glitch 
  • Stopping to scan each item can feel clunky if you’re a new user 
  • You must interact with a store employee at checkout
  • There may be long waits at checkout 
When you should use it
  • You want to shop in the store but don’t want to speak to store associates 
  • Your grocery list does not include produce or alcohol 
  • The regular checkout line is long and requires a long wait 
  • You prefer a digital receipt
  • Your store isn’t busy and there isn’t a long wait at checkout
  • Your grocery list includes produce and alcohol 
  • You prefer a paper receipt 

The bottom line 

With enough practice, using Walmart’s Scan & Go mobile feature could become second-nature. It’s a safer way to shop in a physical store since you do all the scanning and paying from your own phone, plus it’s convenient because your credit card information is already stored in the app. However, it’s not an end-all-be-all solution, and you’ll need to evaluate yourself the best time to use it. 

Scan & Go is one of four Walmart+ benefits. The others are free shipping with no order minimum, free same-day store delivery, and member prices on fuel. Learn more about Walmart+, Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime, here.

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