BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Attention, Walmart shoppers. If you have the inclination to get your shoplifter on in the self-checkout line, beware a security camera powered by artificial intelligence (AI) could be trained on you.
Business Insider reports the big box retailer is working to reduce checkout theft in more than 1,000 stores in the United States after investing in a surveillance program dubbed Missed Scan Detection. The program was launched several years ago in an effort to combat shrinkage — loss due to shoplifting, scanning errors, employee fraud and other causes.
“Walmart is making a true investment to ensure the safety of our customers and associates,” Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins told the business site. “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 added.
The AI-powered cameras were rolled out to more than 1,000 stores about two years ago and the retail giant has seen positive results since then, according to Jenkins, who said shrinkage has reduced in stores where the cameras have been added.
The U.S. retail economy overall lost an estimated $50.6 billion in 2018 due to shrinkage, up from $46.8 billion the year prior, according to the National Retail Federation.
Alan O’Herlihy, CEO of Everseen which provides Walmart with the AI technology, said the majority of checkout-related issues are not intentional. In some instances, customers forget to include items left at the bottom of the cars or cashiers don’t properly scan an item.
“People make mistakes. In terms of shrinkage, or loss, that’s the main source,” O’Herlihy told Business Insider, adding that milk is a common item that’s not scanned properly.
“People find it hard to scan milk. Sometimes they get frustrated and they just don’t scan it,” he said.
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