With the adoption of mobile checkout still in its early stages, Walmart and JCPenney’s recent initiatives showcase two different approaches to offering the up and coming technology. JCPenney has implemented a standard mobile checkout model, while Walmart is testing a unique approach by combining mobile with self checkout.

JCPenney’s struggles have been well documented since CEO Ron Johnson’s pricing strategy revamp took a nosedive. The company has since rescinded that strategy and is still moving forward with the mobile checkout initiative.

The company announced that by the end of March all associates will be equipped with a POS iPod which will enable them to checkout customers anywhere in the store. Currently about 25% of all transactions at company stores are being done on mobile POS. Traditional cash wrap checkouts will still be available, but will be phased out over time.

It’s important to note that the company had previously planned to have nearly 100%  item level RFID tags in all stores by February 2013 but that has been severely scaled back to include only a small amount of JCPenney’s product lines due to cost concerns. The RFID tagging initiative was tied to the mobile checkout plan so it’s a wait and see as to how the company will adjust to this.

Walmart is putting a different spin on mobile checkout by putting the power in the hands of its customers. Last month the company announced it is expanding the“Scan and Go” program to 40 stores in Colorado.

The program uses the Walmart app and allows customers with smartphones to scan the barcodes on products as they put them into their shopping carts. When the customer is finished shopping, the app creates a custom QR code that is used to complete the transaction at one of the self checkout stations at the front of the store.

The program was originally tested late last year at one store in Arkansas and was only available to current employees. Even though the program has been expanded to additional stores it is still in the test phase.

Reducing wait times, freeing up floor space, looking up product detail, increased security and a low cost of integration are all advantages for retailers adding mobile checkout. In the case of the Scan and Go option from Walmart, perhaps one of the greatest advantages is the ability to view what customers are going to purchase before the actual transaction takes place. Digital coupons can be offered immediately based on items scanned, giving the retailer unique insight and a distinct upselling advantage.