Anthony Todd is one popular guy during the holidays.
His job at the sprawling Walmart here is to walk up to people who are standing in line—or anywhere in the store, for that matter—and ask if he can ring them up right then and there, sans cash register.
Sporting a big yellow "Cash Out with Me," banner across his chest, Todd is armed with a portable cash register type device, with a keyboard and Bluetooth technology that accepts credit card swipes, can read QR codes and communicates with smartphone apps.
Customers reactions when they meet Todd in the aisles?
"Awesome, cool, I don't have to wait in line?" he says.
Walmart began testing the service earlier this year, and announced an expansion to all "SuperCenters" for the holidays. Note that all Walmarts don't have it—we visited a Walmart in Torrance (known as a "Neighborhood Market") that didn't offer the service, then went to a larger "SuperCenter" also in Torrance, that hadn't pulled out the equipment yet for Black Friday.
What Walmart is doing with "Check out with Me," isn't novel. The Apple Stores have a similar, more widespread system that eliminates cash registers in the store. Instead, associates greet customers anywhere in the store, and accept payment via a specially equipped iPhone like device.
However, there are just over 500 Apple Stores compared to over 5,000 Walmart stores, which are way, way larger than the average Apple Store.
Additionally, Target is also touting mobile in-store payments with a "Skip the Line" checkout experience that the company says is in all Target stores. "Team members simply scan any item in a guest's basket or shopping cart and accept payment by credit card on the spot from anywhere in the store," says Target.
At Walmart, customers can pay with traditional credit card or download the Walmart app, put in their credit card information, and just scan the product with the app instead, shaving time off the checkout process.
All in all, Walmart customers at busy stores will be able to deduct 10 to 15 minutes from the line process by using the mobile checkout, says Tony Amirikhass, the Southgate Walmart store manager.
"We have every register open," during the holidays, he says. "Our baskets are very large. We're a high volume store, and it takes three to five minutes per transaction. So yeah, there's a big time saving."
Shopper alert: The mobile checkout is aimed at those with small purchases of a handful of items, like big electronics or a toy or two, not a person with 50 to 100 items. "We check you out there, and you're gone," Amirikhass says.
In 2017, e-tail giant Amazon unveiled what's considered the future of shopping with the Go stores in Seattle. These 7-Eleven size convenience stores have no cash registers, but instead use cameras, sensors and an app to track purchases. Customers pick up what they want and just walk out, finding an e-mail receipt for their goods awaiting them when they exist.
Explore further: A holiday miracle? Stores try to cut down on long lines