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Walmart boosts Scan & Go self-checkout with mobile coupons

Walmart continues to ramp up its mobile in-store Scan & Go program by giving users the ability to clip coupons by tapping their smartphones and having the savings automatically applied when they check out.

Scan & Go, a feature on the Walmart application, enables users to scan merchandise in certain stores and pay at a self-checkout counter. The latest update to the app features the new digital coupon capabilities as well as the ability to scan a QR code on a printed receipt to receive an electronic version.

“This is great for offers that are targeted at increasing basket size from existing customers,” said Alex Campbell, chief innovation officer of Vibes.

“It makes scanning and using coupons very easy,” he said.

“Obviously, this is significant for mobile because Scan & Go is a smartphone app, but I particularly like it because it’s focused on the in-store experience. This will allow Walmart to do some really dynamic pricing based on individual customers and buying behavior.”

Mr. Campbell is not affiliated with Walmart and spoke based on his experience in mobile.

Walmart did not respond to press inquiries.

Keeping coupons close
The digital coupons are available at stores that offer Scan & Go. Several months ago, Walmart said the Scan & Go program, which was launched late last year, would be expanded to more than 200 stores.

The latest update to the Walmart app also enables users to register their phone number during checkout to get automatic electronic receipts for future in-store purchases.

Scan & Go is in approxiately 200 stores.

Additionally, when users purchase a qualifying DVD or Blu-ray disc using Scan & Go, they will receive an instant digital copy of their movie at VUDU. The movie will be deposited directly into their digital library and users alerted via a push notification.

Mobile coupons are a quickly growing area because of the perceived benefit to consumers of being able to store coupons on their smartphones. This helps ensure that users always have their coupons with them and do not have to worry about forgetting them at home.

Coupon redemption
However, mobile coupons present some challenges, including how to redeem them in-store and accurately track them.

“The biggest challenge right now with mobile coupons is in-store scanning and redemption,” Mr. Campbell said. “And, specifically, being able to offer a coupon outside the store, adjust it based on external factors and maximize the traffic it drives into the store.

“Scan & Go does help here, but it wasn’t really set up to specifically address this problem,” he said. “I see it more as a cool new checkout technology that will make shopping easier and faster.”

Personalized offers
Another advantage mobile potentially brings to coupons is the ability to personalize them so that users do not have to sort through hundreds of mobile coupons to find the ones that are right for them, based on user preference, needs, purchase-history and location in the store. This will help drive adoption, usage and sales.

For example, the Stop & Shop supermarket chain offers the Scan It! app, which enables loyalty members to scan and bag their groceries while also providing access to exclusive, personalized offers. The retailer reports a 10 percent lift in spending from customers that use Scan It!.

It is not clear how personalized the Scan & Go offers will be.

“My personal favorite mobile coupon experience is what the University of Michigan did with Passbook,” Mr. Campbell said.

“They created an offer that encouraged people to get to the game on time rather than the usual 30 minutes late, therefore, driving concession sales,” he said. “It was like Snapchat meets Passbook because the offer was limited to the first part of the game and then it expired.

“It was a great way of using the dynamic nature of mobile to attack a real problem that changed customer behavior.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York