“Scan & Go” at Watson’s: Checking Out on the Sales Floor

Yesterday for the first time I experienced a retail store employee as a “checkout point.”

I visited a nearby Watson’s store to buy a pack of Bandaids and when I went to the cashier’s counter to pay for my purchase, I noticed a sign that said, “Scan & Go” in English and Chinese. I was a bit mystified because for most of the past two years I always pay with things by “scanning and going”—pulling out my phone, opening Alipay, pulling up my QR transaction code, getting scanned and then going.

This time was clearly different as I turned around and a the retail employee who had been helping me find the Bandaids grabbed the black and gold card on the lanyard around her neck gesturing to the QR code. She explained the process to me: to open the Watson’s app, scan her QR code, scan the QR codes of the products I want to buy and then pay. After completing the transaction I could put the things in my bag and leave the store.

There was no longer a checkout for mobile payments, the new model was simply that the retail employee who helps you would also be the person to complete the sale. In minutes I did this and was out the door.

Interestingly, this new innovation takes the transparency of the digital transactions that cashless payments have made possible and goes even one step further—now I’m not just dealing with a store, but with the individual person working for the store.

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