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- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Produce that needs to be weighed: Produce must be brought to the self-checkout station to be weighed.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can only be purchased at a regular checkout station because a store associate needs to check your ID.
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.
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.
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.
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|
|When you should use it||
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.