Self-Service Checkout Leads to More Theft
Self-service checkout technology may offer convenience and speed, but it also helps turn law-abiding shoppers into petty thieves by giving them “ready-made excuses” to take merchandise without paying, two criminologists say. In a study of retailers in the United States, Britain and other European countries, Professor Adrian Beck and Matt Hopkins of the University of Leicester in England said the use of self-service lanes and smartphone apps to make purchases generated a loss rate of nearly 4 percent, more than double the average. The scanning technology relies largely on the honor system. Instead of having a cashier ring up and bag a purchase, the shopper is solely responsible for completing the transaction. That lack of human intervention, however, reduces the perception of risk and could make shoplifting more common, the report said.
Total Retail's Take: I'm not surprised. The lack of interaction with a human before walking out the door with items in tow lends itself to a higher rate of shoplifting. The tough spot for retailers is that self-service terminals have become a valuable tool in speeding up the checkout process. So do retailers offer a better customer experience and have self-service terminals, and accept the rise in theft that's likely to come with them, or do they not offer self-service checkout to save costs, but potentially upset customers in the process? More seem to be choosing the former, and accepting the fact that theft is, unfortunately, a consequence of having retail stores.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.