PhotoIn the world of retail, technology is useful in different ways. Sometimes a technological advancement allows a product to function better.

Other times it improves the overall appearance of the product and makes it easier to use. But most of the time manufactures use technology to make things work faster, because in today’s culture, product improvement is synonymous with quicker performance and speedier results.

Technology doesn’t only make products work faster; it makes the process of buying them faster too. And by now most of us have taken our turns at a self-pay kiosks in a supermarket or a department store. But soon even that process will seem slow and outdated.

Walmart for example has just begun testing a new technology called “Scan & Go” for iPhone users, and it allows customers to scan items as they shop.

After your items are scanned you take a digital shopping list that appears on your phone and transfer it directly to a kiosk. This means hardly any lines at the register, as customers will merely have to touch their phone to the kiosk, make their payment and head for the door.

At the moment, the nationwide retailer is testing the Scan & Go app in its Rogers, Ark., store and consumers could be seeing this check-out system at other U.S. locations in the near future.

Apple check-out

PhotoAnd not only Walmart, but Apple too has made the check-out process even faster for consumers.

With its EasyPay app, customers can walk into any Apple location, scan the product's barcode and within  seconds the item comes up on your device with the price and product info.

After clicking the buy button you wait a few seconds for an electronic receipt, remove the item from the shelf and off you go.

No check-out lines, no sales people and a completely self-service shopping experience. And no one will give you suspicious looks for casually picking up an expensive laptop and strolling out the door with it.

In order to use the app for purchasing you’ll have to register with the Apple website and type in your account information.

PayPal with fries

PhotoAnd retail stores aren’t the only ones allowing you to pay for items with your smartphone. McDonald’s is testing a service in 30 of its locations in France, where one can order and pay for food with PayPal.

If  rolled out to the U.S., Big Mac cravers could order their food while going to the fast-food chain, pay for it with a click of a button, then present a receipt number to a cashier. Although standing in line may still come into play, many customers would only be paying and not thinking of what to order, which is bound to speed up the process by great lengths.

There are also restaurant kiosks being used and tested around the globe, where customers just walk up to a digital board, press a picture of their desired food item and pay for it. A few moments later a staff member brings you your food and you’re all set.

Some may say we’re not too far off from many high-end restaurants having a self-pay feature or ordering app as well.

Imagine going to a fancy eatery and having your table and food waiting there for you upon arrival. It would be great for when you’re on your way to a movie or a show and you’re pressed for time. And the self-pay movement doesn’t stop there.

In Nevada residents can do most of their DMV transactions by visiting a kiosk. Those who live in the Battle Born State can renew their driver’s license and registration, get a duplicate if it was lost or stolen, and handle other related responsibilities that usually take all day to complete.

Self check-in

PhotoEven airports, that force human interaction the most for safety reasons, are making the self-pay and check-out process even faster.

A few airports have installed kiosks that allow you to print your own ticket for your luggage, and even check yourself at the gate before walking on to the plane.

Instead of checking-in with the person behind that small podium-looking desk at the gate, travelers can use a kiosks to scan their ticket. In fact, they wouldn’t have to deal with one single person besides security from the time they enter the airport until they get on the plane.

Of course all of this self-paying could eventually thrust out the cashier, sales person or airport worker from employment, which is the unfortunate side of technological development.

But like it or not the trend of self-paying won’t be disappearing anytime soon. It's only going to become more and more widespread as time rolls on.

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