Walmart has turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify checkout theft and scanning errors.
The US retail giant is using computer vision technology to monitor checkouts and deter potential theft in more than 1,000 stores, Business Insider reports.
The technology uses cameras to track and analyse activities at both self-scan and regular checkouts. When the system spots a potential issue, such as an item being put in a shopping bag without being scanned, it notifies staff so they can intervene.
Based on the industry average, Walmart loses an estimated $4bn (£3.15bn) per year to what’s known as ‘shrinkage’ – theft, scanning errors, fraud and other related losses.
“Walmart is making a true investment to ensure the safety of our customers and associates,” Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins told Business Insider. “Over the last three years, the company has invested over half a billion dollars in an effort to prevent, reduce and deter crime in our stores and parking lots. We are continuously investing in people, programs and technology to keep our stores and communities safe.”
Shrink rates have declined at stores where the company has deployed the Missed Scan Detection system, Jenkins added.
According to Irish technology company Everseen, one of the firms behind the technology, most of the checkout-related issues picked up by the system are accidental. For instance, customers might forget items in the bottom of their shopping trolley, or cashiers could accidentally fail to scan an item if they are tired or distracted.
When contacted by the BBC, UK supermarket chain Asda – which is owned by Walmart – said it does not use image recognition cameras in its stores.
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