Use Walmart app and head to front of the line
In its latest move to compete in the new digital world of retail, Walmart will soon let shoppers set up cash transfers and prescription refills from their smartphones, then let them skip to the front of the line in stores to complete the transactions.
The change will come via an app update and new express lanes starting next month. Full rollout will come by fall, Walmart executives said during a demonstration here Monday.
The moves mark a fresh volley in the battle between Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, and ecommerce giant Amazon. Walmart is enhancing the efficiency of its mobile offering while highlighting its ability to use its network of stores to offer essential in-person services.
“Our customers continue to tell us that the need to save time has become just as important as the need to save money while shopping with us,’’ said Daniel Eckert, Walmart’s senior vice president for services. “By using the network of Walmart stores, and innovative technologies such as the Walmart app ... we’re creating a set of services unlike any other in retail.’’
Walmart shoppers will be able to use the app to set up a profile and then place orders for medications. They can view prices and receive updates telling them when refills are ready. Once they get to the store and go through an express lane, the shopper opens the app, scans a code at the counter and receives the prescription. Payments and receipts are delivered electronically.
Money transfers will work much the same way. Money services transactions are popular at Walmart, and those wanting to transfer money will be able to input pertinent details into their smartphones instead of filling out paperwork at the store.
At nearly all of the 1,200 stores that have areas dedicated to financial services, customers will be able to access a special line where they can pay for their transaction. Because of the information submitted through the app, a customer can shave the time spent on a money transfer in the store from six minutes to 40 seconds, Eckert says.
In January, Walmart announced online shoppers could now get free two-day shipping of the retailer’s most popular products if they spend at least $35.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP/GETTY IMAGES