Walmart’s Indiana Supercenter along Oakland Avenue in White Township recently became the first in western Pennsylvania to get the retailer’s new Pickup Tower and Mobile Express Scan & Go technology.
“It is kind of cool,” local Walmart Assistant Manager Rich Behr said of the technology going into a tower enabling Walmart.com customers to pick up purchases made online. Devices will allow customers to scan items while shopping inside the suburban Indiana store and skip its traditional checkout line.
“It streamlines our whole process,” said Carrie Buterbaugh, co-manager at the store in Southtowne Plaza.
The first-for-the-region Pickup Tower at the White Township store can hold up to 300 packages and already had more than 70 as of midweek.
At a kickoff event Wednesday, local Walmart store Manager Mary McCunn said, “we used it a lot for giveaways.”
Those utilizing walmart. com can make use of the tower by choosing from millions of items available on Walmart.com and selecting the “Pickup” option at checkout.
When the item arrives at the local store, an associate will load it into the Pickup Tower and notify the customer.
When that customer arrives, he or she can step up to the tower, scan the bar code sent to his or her smartphone and receive the order in less than a minute.
Meanwhile, the Indiana-area location is among 100 Walmart stores in 33 states that will be covered by an ongoing test of technology where customers can use an app to scan and bag items, including produce, while they shop, then pay directly with their phones.
McCunn said Walmart told her in November that her store was getting the Pickup Tower and Scan & Go.
“So many people use smartphones and many shop online as part of their daily lives,” McCunn said. “We’re very excited to be able to offer them a more enjoyable shopping experience.”
The company said on a blog that the Scan & Go app is available on both Android and iOS devices and securely stores credit or debit card information.
“(Those items) transfer right to the terminal when they check out,” Behr said.
As a customer shops, a running total is kept of items in the shopper’s cart. After using the app to pay for the items, all the customer needs to do is show the receipt from his or her phone to an associate on the way out.
“It is quicker,” said customer Rich Moreau, of Indiana. “It is easier when you get a few things.”
“It is very convenient whenever you’re in a hurry,” said Giovanni Montenegro, of Indiana. “You pay and you go.”
The test began recently in a few select markets, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando and Walmart’s home turf in northwest Arkansas.
A Walmart employee showed Thomas Piraino, of Indiana, how to use it as he was trying to get through before his bus arrived at the plaza.
“He did a good job,” Piraino said.
Some area shoppers have found such technology elsewhere in the Walmart orbit.
“I’ve used them before at Sam’s Club,” said Robert Simpson, of Marion Center.
Simpson is concerned that the new Scan & Go technology in Indiana will cost jobs.
“As more and more do this there will be fewer employees,” he said.
However, McCunn said she needs to add to what now is a staff of 376.
“We need cashiers and some more associates,” the Indiana store manager said.
“Adding this new technology is ending up creating more jobs,” Buterbaugh said.
In October of last year, Walmart said it will invest approximately $11 billion through 2018 in store growth, store remodels and other innovations in the United States, such as Pickup Towers, Online Grocery Pickup, Scan & Go and more.
Online Grocery Pickup isn’t available yet in Indiana, though Walmart offers it in Latrobe and North Huntingdon Township.