Walmart calls upon Apple to revolutionize the way its customers shop and pay

“Imagine having to pay $12 million per second. This is what Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, pays on a daily basis at its U.S. stores on cashier expenses,” Richard Saintvilus reports for TheStreet.

MacDailyNews Note: It’s not “$12 million per second,” Saintvilus likely means Wal-Mart pays cashier expenses of “$12 million per day” as he contradictingly states in his second sentence. And, yes, “contradictingly” is a brand new adverb that we just invented.

“But now it’s looking for ways to trim down on those expenses while improving arguably one of its chief weaknesses – the checkout process. To that end, it has called upon Apple to help revolutionize the way its customers shop and pay,” Saintvilus writes. “If stores are able to cut down some time during on the checkout process, not only will it benefit the consumer but it is certain to minimize loss revenue while improving margins.”

Saintvilus writes, “Walmart has embarked on a pilot program aimed at speeding up the payment process. The company asked employees that owned iPhones to participate in an exercise and simulate a shopping experience that allowed them to scan and pay for their own items. If this works it has the potential to save Walmart millions of dollars annually.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Walmart tests ‘Scan & Go’ self-checkout feature for customers with Apple iPhones – August 31, 2012

37 Comments

  1. Walmart isn’t so much concerned with improving the customer experience so much as their bottom line and removing yet more low middle class jobs from their operation. This self-checkout trend is not all about “improving” the customer experience but shaving off employees and their attendant benefits & expenses.

    1. If it’s either that or higher prices, I think we can all give it a look. Wal-Mart around here is notorious for having 20 registers and 4 cashiers and lines back to the electronics section. So, I think a new system WILL improve the customer experience, even if that’s not the primary goal.

      1. The money saved WON’T be used to lower prices for us, nor to give raises to their existing middle class workers. All will be used to increase their riches.

        …and yes I do shop someplace else and pay more. I also pay more for wind power at my home even though the electricity is the same because I have principles, and principles are worth paying for.

        I stopped asking “what are THEY doing to stop global warming, and what are THEY doing to stop greedy corporations from abusing and outsourcing us”. The power is in OUR hands folks. WE can put greedy companies out of business with nothing more than the force of will, but ONLY if we are willing to put our money where our mouth is.

        Each time you save money and hand your money over to greedy corporations you are increasing their power over your life. That is like buying your way into slavery. What does it mean when you allow a small group of executives to dictate your life and have the power to make laws over you?

        Do you like working hard all day so just a few people profit?
        Were you born to server your masters?

        If we don’t support our local small businesses, we will have no place to work once our masters decide they have no use for us and exile (fire) us.

        For many of the unemployed who have had their jobs sent overseas, being fired and being exiled are the exact same things.

        Corporations are the new Monarchies in which we serve.
        ..but we have ALL the power. The choice is ours.

        I choose to pay more. How about you?

    2. Sometimes something can have dual purpose. If this creates a better customer experience for Walmart and it saves Walmart money then thats a win/win. I know the speedy, no line checkouts at the Apple Store are pretty nice.

      1. Bingo. Amazon is attempting to move to same-day shipping for Prime members. I already know three people who can’t wait, and will be ordering EVERYTHING from Amazon, including groceries.

        But I guess Amazon gets a free pass because they’ve always been tech based, and thus won’t be cutting any jobs? Wal-Mart is just screwed because they’re brick & mortar and will have to cut jobs to compete. They get eviscerated, while Amazon gets celebrated. It’s amazing how stupid and short-sighted people can be. If you don’t want Wal-Mart to cut jobs, then I guess we need to outlaw Amazon. It’s the only way to stop the competitive cycle (or the “circle of capitalism,”, as tbone calls it).

  2. And this will lead to the loss of more jobs which affects the middle class and their ability to buy things. Seriously… Profits only benefit share holders and this greed will eventually affect them as well when nobody can buy things because they no longer have jobs even as simple as a cashier. Now… Here’s the otherside of the debate. Those people affected can now move along to a BETTER and more interesting job which hopefully improves their education and skill set. But people are whiny, lazy, and complacent.

    1. Reading “your” sides of the argument, I have another.

      Minimum wages have made it more economical for Wal Mart to automate the checkout process, thus lowering their wages. The is called competition. Some people are not willing, or able to work at a college degree level. Some of these people learn a trade or skill, some work at low wage jobs. At least for now.

      This is not to be mean. It is just nature.

      1. And when the circle of capitalism marginalizes everyone who is not some computer scientist like you, you will have no market to sell to, no one to buy your product, which will your employer to lay you off, no minimum wage job to fall back on, no government help to stabilize the economy, a large uneducated population with access to guns (which you so graciously made easily accessible… gosh these social questions are just enormous aren’t they?

        1. Ah, so the government will save us all: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Sounds like Utopia doesn’t it, and yet I seem to recall that I have heard it before…

        2. It’s called competition. If low skill workers have to compete against technology, they will either get better or find something else to do to make a living. Paying people to do unproductive work doesn’t help Wal Mart, nor the economy. Lowering the cost of their goods further through use of technology will allow them to sell more, not less.

          The government’s job is not to stabilize the economy. Or maybe I missed that in the Constitution? I do remember reading about the right to bear arms in the Constitution though. Funny how that is.

          These social issues are not that hard, if you think them through and not try to mess with them.

  3. It’s a bit like those recorded announcements “Your call is important to us …” No it isn’t! and “We’re experiencing a lot of calls at the moment …” No. You haven’t got enough staff! Walmart’s desire has nothing to do with customers and everything to do with cutting jobs and their bottom line.

  4. $12 million a day? Horse hockey, when have you ever seen more than 3 registers open? If they want to save money, don’t pay for and install 30 checkout counters to only use 3!

  5. MDN, this is from the article you linked to the other day: “The company spends about $12 million in cashier wages every second at its Walmart U.S. stores.” And reading today’s linked-to article, I only saw references (four by my scan) to “per second”

    1. The article is confusing:

      Imagine having to pay $12 million per second. This is what Wal-Mart Stores (WMT_), the world’s largest retailer, pays on a daily basis at its U.S. stores on cashier expenses.

      But other articles have also picked up and are printing this number as well, despite simple math making it an obvious error:

      $12 Million /second X 86,400 seconds/day
      = $1.0368 Trillion / day X 365 days/year
      = $378.432 Trillion / year

      Since Walmart showed a mere $400 Billion in revenue last year, and the GDP of the USA was $15 Trillion and the GDP of the planet was $70 Trillion….

      How can so many parrots be spreading it all over the interwebs without pointing out the glaring wrongness of it?

      Somebody at AP or UPI or somewhere *should* be feeling stupid right about now.

      1. Your math is solid, PC Apologist. Richard Saintvilus is only off by a factor of 86,400. Let’s just follow Ballmer’s lead and call it rounding error 😉

        It just goes to show how little you can trust numbers (or anything else) from bloggers. Read with skepticism!

      2. $12M per day = 4.38B per yr. If their revenue all comes from sales at the register then the cost of cashiering seems pretty efficient already at 1.1%. Credit card processing charges are much higher than that unless WalMart get s really good rate, Granted, not all purchases are by credit card but still. I suppose 3 min of a cashiers time costs WalMart 50 cents give or take inefficiencies (down time between customers). Interesting insights when you crank the numbers.

  6. All true (about the potential loss of jobs). On the other hand, should people really be doing mindless jobs that machines can do faster and easier? Shouldn’t people be retrained to the jobs machines (and computers) can’t? Yes, it will be painful in the short term. But in the long term, everyone wins…

  7. I’m told, by a friend who worked at Wal-mart, that the real issue is that 2/3rds of employees are in the back doing nothing. She said you only ever see 1/3 out front working. That frustrated her and she quit. I’d hire 1/3rd the people and pay them 2-3x the salary.

  8. Walmart is already extremely cheep (at the expense of customer experience) when it comes to cashiers. The long, l-o-n-g line to get out is the part I dread the most when shopping at Walmart. Putting me to work as a free cashier would only be worse.

    Now if we can only get an automated Walmart greeter on my iPhone. 😉

  9. Strange, all these comments and not had remarked on how a major company is asking another major company, two market leaders in fact, to lead away with the innovation front.

    Walmart is officially recognising the Apple genius touch on innovation. That’s headline worthy on billboards right there.

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