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The Washington Post reports that Walmart is installing new systems that will create "express lanes in its pharmacy and money services areas, in which customers will be able to use new functions in the Walmart app as part of the transaction process. By allowing shoppers to do some things in the app instead of at the counter, and by letting them bypass the main queue, the theory is that customers should get in and out of the store more quickly ... The express lanes in both pharmacy and money services departments will arrive in a limited number of stores in March and should be available in almost all of the chain’s 4,700 locations by fall."

The story notes that "long lines can be a particular frustration at Walmart’s money services counter, executives explained to reporters on Monday at a Walmart store in this New York suburb. On average, they said customers in the chain’s money services areas are waiting in line for 11 minutes. At peak times, such as around the 1st or the 15th of the month, when many people receive paychecks, waits can swell to 55 or even 70 minutes."
KC's View:
There are a couple of things at play here beyond the not-to-be-minimized importance of saving customers time and trouble.

For one thing, by getting people to use their apps when they walk into the store, it enables Walmart to potentially know more about these shoppers, which will give them a greater ability to target those people. The retailer can then use those connections to market more effectively to those customers elsewhere in the store, which then leads to more information, and then an even greater ability to market in a focused kind of way.

The other thing about this story that fascinated me was Walmart's assertion that "about one in five customers to that come into Walmart stores conduct some sort of money service transaction, including cashing a check, paying a bill, and so on." That's an important statistic, because it reminds us of all the people out there who may not have traditional banking relationships, who live paycheck to paycheck, and for whom some discussions about consumer and food trends may be largely irrelevant. It doesn't mean that they're not aspirational, but it does mean that they have other priorities - like stretching a buck as far as possible, and feeding their families in efficient ways.