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Walmart Uses AI to Catch Checkout Cheats

Paul Rubens - June 21, 2019 - 10:21 AM
Walmart Uses AI to Catch Checkout Cheats
Artificial intelligence is helping Walmart spot people who bag items before they have been scanned at the tills.

(CCM) — Walmart is using image recognition cameras powered by artificial intelligence to crack down on customers who avoid paying for items by placing them in their shopping bags before they have been scanned either by a cashier or by a customer at self-checkout registers, the BBC is reporting.

The "Missed Scan Detection" cameras focus on items rather than people, and if they spot an item being bagged before it has been scanned then they alerts staff who can be summoned to the till to investigate.

So far the technology has been installed in more than 1,000 stores nationwide, and the company says that loss of products due to theft (or error) — known as shrinkage — has decreased thanks to its usage.

LeMia Jenkins, a Walmart spokeswoman, explained the need for the cameras, saying that it had made an investment to ensure the safety of customers and associates. "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," she said.

Half a billion dollars may seem like a large investment, but in 2017 U.S. retailers lost about 1.33 per cent of revenues due to shrinkage. That means that if Walmart's experience is in line with the industry average then shrinkage would likely have cost the company more than $4 billion last year.

Image: © Walmart.

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