Retailer self checkout-lanes increase incidence of theft by five times compared with when cashiers are working, says store video analytic software firm; new generation of self-checkout systems will be more theft-proof, says NRF

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

LOS ANGELES , April 10, 2012 () – Stoplift Checkout Vision Systems Inc. founder Malay Kundu said that self checkout-lanes increase the incidence of theft—including both intentional and unintentional forms—by five times in comparison to when cashiers are working, USA Today reported April 10.

Even as chains such as CVS Caremark Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are adding self-checkout lanes, which boost both convenience and customer service, grocery chains
Albertson's Inc. and Big Y Foods Inc. are abandoning their forays into self-service checkout. Although both chains cited customer service as a reason for the shift, Big Y noted that shoplifting had also played a role.

National Retail Federation's Senior Asset Protection Advisor Joe LaRocca said that stores will likely add self-checkout lanes with upcoming systems that both reduce the risk of theft and are easier for customers to use.

LaRocca noted that new self-checkout systems will be more intuitive, and will be able to tell when items aren’t placed on the belt. Upcoming “tunnel” scanners will feature a conveyor belt and scan items, even unmarked products such as produce, automatically.

Loss prevention experts are also getting better at recognizing intentional self-checkout lane theft, LaRocca added.

"There are ways to distinguish between someone who accidentally forgets to pay or intentionally moves the item so it isn't scanned," says LaRocca, "If you see the physical behaviors enough, you know it when you see it."

Advisory and research firm IHL Group said that, over the next few years, North American self-checkout lanes will likely grow by as much as 10%. The largest increase will most likely occur at convenience, drug and hardware stores.

TABS Group Inc. founder Kurt Jetta said that although self-checkout lanes can provide customer service gains and reduce a retailer’s labor costs, they can potentially causes problems if customers have difficulty scanning items.

Big Y spokesperson Claire D'Amour-Daley said that the company, after removing its self-checkout lanes by the end of 2011, had not noticed any difference in shoplifting patterns.

The primary source of this article is USA Today, McLean, Virginia, on April 10, 2012.

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