You can crack all the jokes you want about Wal-Mart, particularly about “Wal-Mart speak”, but you can’t deny the impact of this chain, both on those in the industry and on consumers. More so, for an “old” company, Wal-Mart does seem to be on the ball when it comes to taking on new technologies to improve its services. (Here is where the “What service?” jokes come in.)

Wal-Mart Scan & Go

All kidding aside, Wal-Mart’s Scan & Go program is in its early stages, with a handful of stores running it. The program essentially allows customers to do self-checkout by using their iPhones to scan the items they are buying. After scanning the items, customers can then proceed to self-checkout counter to pay.

The concept is very attractive. For one, it takes advantage of the fact that most people have smartphones. Customers only have to use the Wal-Mart app to scan their items, leaving out the middleman that is the cashier, who can be tediously slow at times. There is the inconvenience – at least to non-iPhone users – that there is only an iOS app for now, but Wal-Mart says that they are still testing the system and getting feedback from customers and that they are planning on rolling out an Android app soon.

It looks like Wal-Mart may have something with the Scan & Go project, especially with customers in the pilot program using the app repeatedly. Additionally, the chain is adding the system to more stores. Given that Wal-Mart has thousands of branches nationwide, the number of stores that will be featuring Scan & Go is but a small fraction, but the development is still an indication of positive response from customers.

With Wal-Mart leading the way in this matter, I wouldn’t be surprised if other stores actually do a copycat act by establishing their own self-checkout service. And this is one of those times when copying benefits the general public.

[Image via Wal-Mart]