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Macy's plans mobile checkout, virtual reality for 2018

Macy's Inc. shoppers will be able to pay for items in-store using their phones across the company's store network by the end of 2018, CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Gennette said March 18.

Speaking to an audience at Shoptalk 2018 in Las Vegas, Gennette said the system will allow customers to scan price tags with their phone and pay for them using the Macy's mobile phone app. Customers will then hand items over to an employee who can bag the items and verify that customers are leaving with what they paid for.

The mobile checkout option is one of multiple steps that Gennette said the company is taking to bolster its digital offerings. Among the other changes are a virtual reality furniture shopping option being rolled out to 60 stores by fall 2018 and an expanded selection of items available for purchase online.

"Macy's heritage isn't going to be enough to guarantee success," Gennette told the audience.

The changes come less than two months after Gennette became the top executive at the retailer. Under a transformation plan the company calls its "North star strategy," he said Macy's is trying to remove experiences that discourage shoppers, such as long checkout lines.

The mobile checkout option, which requires customers to join Macy's free in-store Wi-Fi network, has been piloted in one of the chain's New Jersey stores and will be available for Android and iOS devices.

With the virtual reality offering, customers will be able to construct a virtual version of their home and place in it furniture items that Macy's sells to see how they look, Gennette said. In April, the company also plans to debut an augmented reality option within its mobile app that will allow customers to overlay images of Macy's furniture items on photos of their current home interiors.