Walmart has begun using an AI-vision system in its stores to monitor their checkout counters and stop thieves from making off with unscanned items.
Walmart Turns to AI-Vision Systems to Help Fight 'Shrinkage'
Walmart confirmed to Business Insider this week that they have rolled out a new AI-vision system to over 1,000 stores to cut down on so-called 'shrinkage', or loss of product from theft, fraud, erroneous scans, and other similar issues.
The system is built into the checkout counters in the participating Walmart stores--both self-checkout and those staffed by Walmart cashiers--and watches for items that a customer moves from the cart or basket into the bagging area without scanning it. When detected, the system notifies a Walmart associate who is standing-by to address the issue with the customer, most likely with an "Oops! It looks like you forgot something!" or similar non-confrontational intervention.
The program, which Walmart calls Missed Scan Detection, has put a noticeable dent in the company's shrinkage since it's been implemented, according to Walmart. According to the National Retail Federation, about 1.33% of the revenue for US retailers is lost to shrinkage every year. This adds up to about $47 billion annually, which mean that if Walmart is in line with the rest of the industry, Business Insider writes, their US operations will have lost over $4 billion in 2018 from shrinkage.
"Walmart is making a true investment to ensure the safety of our customers and associates," said LeMia Jenkins, spokesperson for Walmart. "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."