How to measure and manage losses from self-checkout tech

A learning event hosted by Target

Over 75 delegates representing 22 retailers participated in the first ever RILA self-checkout workshop. Organized by RILA, and hosted by the Target Corporation, the workshop aimed to promote new thinking and encourage the sharing of best practice around the day-to-day operations of self-checkouts (SCO), and new ideas that can help keep customers accurate and honest when using this technology.
At the start of the workshop, retailers participated in a SCO utilization benchmarking session[1] to understand both the types of technology currently being employed and the extent to which they are being used by shoppers:
  • The most frequently used form of SCO was fixed (robots) self-checkout machines (67%) followed by Mobile Scan and Go (consumer uses their own smart device to scan and pay) at 33%, and then Scan and Go, where the retailer supplies the scanning device (17%).
  • In terms of usage, for those retailers present, on average 52% of transactions were being processed through SCO technologies.
  • Participants estimated that usage was likely to grow in the next 2-3 years to an average of around 64% of customer shopping journeys being processed through SCO systems, underlining the considerable and growing significance of this technology in retailing.
Participants then had the opportunity to learn from Toshiba, Zebra Technologies and Profitect about some of their recent developments in SCO technologies designed to help manage losses. Finally, to close the first day, attendees took part in an innovative ‘speed dating’ event, where pairs of retailers shared their current work plan priorities to manage SCO-related losses. This was then followed by a relaxing beer and pizza networking event in the early evening.

The second day was organized around the findings from a report published by the ECR Community Shrinkage and On-shelf Availability Group, on understanding and managing losses from SCO, facilitated by the author of the report, Emeritus Professor Beck. Structured around four interlinked sessions focused upon understanding the scale of the problem and the key ways in which they may be better controlled, attendees were given the opportunity to discuss and debate a number of key questions, including:

  • How do you monitor and measure the risks and losses associated with SCO?
  • How do you create leading indicators to identify these risks in retail organizations?
  • Given the important role that can be played by the SCO Host/Supervisor in controlling losses, how does your organization ensure that this capability is developed, supported and delivered consistently in retail stores?
  • What is your organization’s approach to utilizing weight-based security at SCO – vital role to play in controlling risk or an unnecessary and increasingly problematic barrier to delivering friction-less shopping?
  • To what extent are technology-based scan avoidance systems delivering results in the SCO environment?
  • What might be the next generation of technologies to help retailers combat SCO-related losses – product recognition, e-based exist controls, customer tracking and video analytics etc.?
  • In what ways can you better engage your organization to ensure that a more complete and holistic understanding of the consequences of using SCO technologies is developed?

Closing out the workshop, the participants engaged in a lively debate about the potential future direction of SCO-related research and how RILA could play a role in supporting the industry in their efforts to develop effective strategies to both utilize SCO systems and control the losses associated with them. RILA’s EVP of Retail Operations & Innovation Lisa LaBruno closed the event, summarizing that it had “offered a fantastic opportunity for some of the biggest users of SCO technologies in the U.S. to both share their experiences and critically debate the future role and control of self-scan systems in retailing.”

Download a copy of the ECR Community report on SCO

Download a copy of the slides from the workshop

For more information on the workshop or RILA's asset protection community, contact Executive Vice President, Retail Operations and Innovation Lisa LaBruno.

[1] These results should be interpreted with caution – they are simply based upon the views of those retailers who attended the event and so cannot be taken as representing the views of the U.S. retail industry.

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