Why Walmart Might Eliminate Cashiers From Its Stores

A world without traditional checkout lanes might not be such a farfetched idea anymore. Walmart is testing out a new system at a store in Fayetteville, Arkansas. At that location, customers will have self-checkout kiosks instead of traditional, in-person checkout lanes with cashiers and conveyor belts.

According to Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg, the Fayetteville store's front-end checkout will be redesigned so it will look different to customers. But he assured that shoppers will still have the option to have a Walmart employee scan and bag their purchases for them at these kiosks, if that's their preference.

The retailer, the largest in the U.S., is implementing this new system to see if it speeds up the checkout process, which would prevent long lines, thus aiding measures to encourage social distancing and limit the number of customers in stores (via Today).

This is the latest in moves from Walmart to adjust to the pandemic and improve its shopping experience. The retail chain announced in May that it would streamline its apps to make online shopping more simple for users. In the same month, the company also debuted Walmart Pay, a touch-free payment system, as a way to further reduce potential transmission of the coronavirus within stores. As for self-checkout kiosks, the pilot system might be introduced to other Walmart stores, but it ultimately depends on customer feedback (via The Hill).

What Walmart customers think of self-checkout

People have had mixed reactions to the new checkout system at the Walmart location in Fayetteville. While some appreciate interacting with fewer people and prefer self-checkout kiosks anyway, others are not happy with the roll-out. "I self check on many occasions when I have a few items, But do not want to check myself with a full cart," someone wrote on the Facebook page for the Fayetteville store. "I will not be back until there is a change."

Another person commented that if Walmart wants you to checkout, then the company needs to pay you to do that, since it's "working for them." Someone else wrote that this change makes it impossible for older people to shop.

There have also been concerns that Walmart cashiers at the Fayetteville location will lose their jobs because of the pilot program. Lundberg stressed that no employees at that store are being laid off as it switches to self-checkout kiosks. According to him, though checking out and the role of a cashier may both look a bit different from before, shoppers will still be able to check out however they want to (via Today).

Systems like the one at the Fayetteville store might be the future of in-store shopping. A survey conducted in the U.S. found that 87 percent of shoppers say they would prefer to shop in stores with touch-free or robust self-checkout options, as seen in a press release on Bloomberg.