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Walmart’s Fast Lane Allows Consumers to Skip Lines, Cashiers

The war of the mega-retailers rages on as Walmart makes yet another bid to keep pace with Amazon through a new cashierless checkout system.

Walmart’s “Fast Lane” will debut at a newly opened store in Toronto, allowing consumers to avoid cashiers and registers altogether.

Instead, shoppers will scan each item in their cart using the Walmart app. When they’re ready to check out, a barcode is generated through the app, which is then scanned at a scanning station in the Fast Lane. The credit card that the consumer has on file is charged, and they need only validate their mobile receipt with a checker before walking out of the store.

The Toronto location will serve as a template for future stores, the company said in a statement.

With the rollout of Fast Lane, Walmart is flexing its consumer efficiency muscles to compete with long-term rival Amazon. The online retailer and the biggest of the big-box stores have been duking it out on multiple fronts, with Walmart rolling out free, one-day shipping earlier this month in response to a move by Amazon.

Now, Walmart is encroaching on the Amazon Go model, which the company debuted publicly in 2018. Amazon Go convenience stores allow customers to grab product and walk out, similarly eschewing the checkout process. The Go stores primarily carry food and drink items, ideal for busy workers trying to squeeze in a lunch run.

Walmart’s Fast Lane will allow customers to shop the entire store using their mobile devices.

Through this program and others, Walmart is “testing new and innovative technologies, integrating e-commerce with bricks-and-mortar and updating our assortment to improve the customer shopping experience and to appeal more to young families in urban markets,” Lee Tappenden, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, said in a statement.

Fast Lane is actually the third iteration of Walmart’s foray into mobile checkout. The now-discontinued “Scan & Go” model provided a similar experience, with consumers using the app to scan items as they shopped. However, there was no Fast Lane with checkout scanners. Theft ultimately deterred the retailer from continuing with this model, and it was replaced with “Check Out With Me,” a program that allowed shoppers to check out with roaming store employees using handheld devices.