As retailers seek to ring the changes with self-service checkouts to keep a lid on their operational costs, new loss prevention challenges are opening up. In such a scenario staff may struggle to pick out suspicious activity, and the automatic systems built into the checkout can generate too many false alarms, so when a real incident happens it may simply fall under the radar.
According to Daniel Wan, channel marketing manager at Honeywell, a large proportion of all stock losses are a result of theft or fraud by customers: “These come from a wide range of sources from simple shoplifting to fraud at point of sale, either with or without the collusion of retail staff.”
Wan says that the key to successful prevention of this is to identify and tackle theft as it happens, with strong evidence to support any conviction:
This not only prevents the event from happening but also discourages others to try when word gets around. – Daniel Wan, Channel Marketing Manager, Honeywell
Andy Martin, business development manager at Axis Communications, discusses the dilemma faced by self-service attendants when dealing with self-checkout issues: “Against opportunist theft there is no doubt that self-checkout operators are not really policing the area; they are there to make sure that a customer’s shopping experience isn’t a poor one because they haven’t got staff contact.”
Added to this, Martin explains that there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that making the checkout alarm and having it reset is a diversionary tactic criminals are turning to: “While the alarm is being alarmed, and the time it takes the unwitting member of staff to react and reset the system, they may already have four or five items in their bag that they haven’t scanned.”
Henrik Høj Pedersen, business development manager in the Corporate Business Unit at Milestone Systems, offers his thoughts on the growing footprint of self-checkouts and criminal actions. The problem he suggests is it is difficult to monitor several stations at the same time, and many people can be tempted to sneak away with that little bit extra.
So how can this be addressed? Well, in the case of trying to get through self-service without even paying at all, Pedersen agrees with other commentators that with video monitoring, linking the video system to the POS (Point Of Sale) system and then analytics makes sense: “With analytics you can go in and mark a certain area in the camera view integrated with the POS system so you know there is a person who has left an empty box without paying with their credit card.”
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