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Walmart ramps up self-checkout, scales down ‘scan and go’ shopping





In the race to woo customers with a seamless shopping experience, Walmart Canada is adding more self-checkout kiosks and revamping its “scan and go” system where shoppers scan their items while they shop.

It appears “scan and go,” in its current form, wasn’t a “go” for many customers.

Physical retailers are scrambling to make shopping more convenient while also trying to keep costs down in an era where most anything can be bought online. But it’s game of trial and error where customers won’t always buy in.

“It’s a really challenging time for retailers,” said Brynn Winegard, a Toronto-based marketing and retail expert. “They’re pressed to figure out what it is consumers want as well as to drive home profitability,”

‘Scan and go’ overhaul

Walmart Canada made headlines last year when it announced it was rolling out “scan and go” in 20 locations. 

The system requires customers to pick up a portable scanner in the store and use it to scan the barcode on their items before putting them in the shopping cart. The scanner tallies the bill and customers pay at the cashier or use self-checkout.

One year later, Walmart has quietly scaled back the system to only three stores. In the U.S., the retailer abandoned it completely.

With scan and go, customers scan their own items while shopping and pay for them with the aid of a mobile device provided in the store. (Walmart Canada)

Walmart Canada wouldn’t detail why the concept didn’t catch on except to say that it’s currently testing improvements to the technology, including a new scanner interface and added features.

“We are frequently testing and trying out new things in our business,” said Walmart Canada spokesperson Anika Malik in an email. “The way our customers shop is changing and we are constantly innovating to meet their needs.”

Malik said the same rule applies to self-checkout kiosks. She wouldn’t provide numbers, but said Walmart continues to add them to stores to offer customers more choice and convenience. 

However, several shoppers complained to CBC News that their local Walmart sometimes offers no cashier option, only self-checkout, either early in the morning or late at night.

“I can just order it on Amazon if that’s what they want,” said Cody Nolan. He went to Walmart in Brockville, Ont. last week at 10PM and said, much to his disappointment, no cashier lanes were open. 

“I’m kind of old-school. I actually like to converse with a cashier as I do my payments.”

Walmart Canada says some cashiers have been re-deployed to other positions such as customer support for self-checkout. (CBC)

Last week, Ashlyn Skocdopole said she also got stuck using self-checkout for a cart full of groceries because no cashiers were open at the Sylvan Lake, Alta., Walmart at 8:30 a.m.

“It was frustrating. The machine kept going off and telling me I needed assistance.” Meanwhile, she tried to keep an eye on her two-year-old child.

“It’s not convenient,” said Skocdopole.

Walmart spokesperson Malik said the company’s goal is to have a cashier option available at all times and that if none are open, customers can request one.

She also said many shoppers appreciate self-checkout and that the technology has resulted in no job losses. Instead, she said some employees have been re-deployed to other positions such as customer support for self-checkout.

What’s next?

There’s no doubt retail is headed toward a more automated format which will change the types of jobs involved and, ultimately, the way we shop.

But there will be hiccups along the way. Retail expert Steve Tissenbaum considers self-checkout kiosks, which many retailers now offer, as one of those hiccups.

“That is probably more of a stop-gap between more intellectual or more capable technology,” said Tissenbaum, a professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

Already, retailers are testing other formats to see what sticks.

For those who still crave the human touch, Walmart and Target in the U.S. each recently launched a “scan and go” system where employees do the work.

Workers equipped with mobile devices both scan and checkout customers’ items in busy parts of the store. Customers can use debit or credit to pay on the spot.

Walmart U.S. is expanding its on-the-spot checkout system where employees still do the work. (Walmart)

Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its cashier-less concept — Amazon Go. In this store, customers don’t even need to scan their items.

Instead, they just take what they want and walk out, thanks to technology that detects when products are removed from store shelves.

Customers are billed via their Amazon accounts.

Since the beginning of the year, the online retail giant has opened six Amazon Go stores in the U.S. and is reportedly considering opening up to 3,000 more in the next few years. 

Walmart will soon open a new cashierless Sam’s Club store in Texas where shoppers scan and pay for their purchases via their smartphone. (Walmart U.S.)

Walmart also plans to launch a cashierless store this month at one of its Sam’s Club locations in Texas. The big-box, membership-only store will use “scan and go” technology, but members will download an app to both scan and pay for items via their smartphone.

Walmart said it will also have employees called “member hosts” who will offer in-store assistance.

“As shopping preferences evolve, we’ll give members and customers options to shop in new ways,” said Walmart U.S. spokesperson, Carrie McKnight in an email.

As for shoppers, they can rest assured that if they don’t buy into one new shopping concept, another, different format will likely quickly follow. 


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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