Theft at self-checkout in convenience stores is a growing concern, with increasing rates of theft being reported. Some experts now believe that shrinkage related to self-checkout stations is as high as 3.5% of a store’s sales. This trend is attributed to the absence of employees supervising every transaction, which creates a significant risk of mistakes, theft, and fraud at the self-checkout kiosk. According to a recent survey, nearly one in five shoppers admitted to having stolen something from a self-checkout lane, and industry experts estimate that thefts at self-checkout tills have doubled within the last four years. The anonymity of the self-checkout process and the ease of theft have contributed to this problem. However, there are several strategies that convenience store owners can implement to reduce the risk of theft at self-checkout.
How do Thieves Target Self-Checkout?
Perpetrators are becoming increasingly creative with their techniques. The most common types of theft at self-checkout include:
1. The “Switcheroo”: This is perhaps the most common method of theft at self-checkout lanes. It involves peeling the sticker off something inexpensive and placing it over the barcode of something pricey. The key is to ensure that both items are about the same weight to avoid triggering an “unexpected item” alert in the bagging area. Using UPC symbols printed directly onto product packaging limits the ability to use this strategy. However, savvy thieves may bring in pre-printed UPC stickers to cover the product’s actual UPC.
2. The “Pass Around”: This method involves not scanning an item and simply passing it around the self-checkout scanner. The perpetrator may act as if they pass the product over the scanner, but in reality, it passes to the side as the register does not pick it up.
3. The “Banana Trick”: This tactic involves ringing up a high-priced item, such as a T-bone steak, with the code for a cheaper variety of produce, such as bananas. Self-checkouts with an option for “item lookup” are susceptible to this risk.
These methods highlight the need for increased security measures and oversight at self-checkout lanes to prevent theft and fraud.
Strategies to Reduce Theft at Self-Checkout
While thefts are on the rise, self-checkout provides many benefits for convenience store owners. This technology relieves managers from the burden of hiring additional employees to ensure the check stand is always staffed. Additionally, many consumers enjoy the convenience of quickly ringing up their own purchases and paying with the swipe of a card or even with the tap of a phone or smartwatch. Here are just some of the strategies owners can use to reduce the risks associated with theft at self-checkout stations:
1. Randomized Checkout Control
One of the most effective ways to prevent self-checkout theft is randomized checkout control, which uses an algorithm to randomly select baskets for control before the transaction is completed. This approach introduces an element of unpredictability, making it more difficult for potential thieves to game the system.
2. Staff Oversight
Having a living, breathing human by the door or near the self-checkout area can reduce the risk of theft by deterring potential shoplifters. While this may not be feasible for all convenience stores, it can be an effective deterrent, especially during peak hours.
3. Use of Self-Checkout Security Kiosks
Many grocery store chains implemented self-checkout security kiosk technology in the very early days of self-checkout. This technology helps prevent theft by requiring the customer to weigh their items. If the scale registers a heavier weight than expected, it can trigger an alert, prompting staff to intervene.
4. Customer Education
Convenience store owners can also educate their customers about the risks and consequences of self-checkout theft. This can be done through signage, verbal reminders, and other communication channels.
5. Enhanced Surveillance
Implementing video surveillance and self-checkout monitoring systems can help deter theft and provide evidence in the event of a theft incident.
GP Energy is your partner in getting your business racing to profitability.
By implementing these strategies, convenience store owners can reduce their risk of theft at self-checkout and create a more secure shopping environment for their customers. It’s important to stay vigilant and adapt to new challenges as the self-checkout landscape evolves. If you’re interested in learning more ways to achieve your company’s goals, call our team. GP Energy helps convenience stores across the United States achieve success. Contact us today, and let’s see where your road leads.