Self-scanning technology could encourage customer theft, study shows

Removing human contact and allowing customers to use self-checkout technology could be promoting theft and hurting retail stores' profits, according to a British university study.

Conducted by the University of Leicester's criminology department, the study interviewed retailers in Britain, the US, Belgium and the Netherlands, co-author Adrian Beck told dpa Wednesday.

These new technologies give customers the "opportunity to blame faulty technology, problems with the product barcodes or claim that they are not technically proficient as reasons for not scanning products," the report said.

This makes it difficult for retailers to know whether customers intended to steal or were "simply absent-minded or poor at scanning items consistently."

The study, published Tuesday, also determined that the sense of risk perception felt by customers is significantly reduced when using these mobile scanning technologies, as there is no human interaction during the shopping process.

Beck's study found that the losses suffered by the store highlighted in the report were significantly higher for the self-scan checkout than for the store overall.

"The average rate of shrinkage for the case-study store as a whole was 1.47 per cent, while for the scanners it was 3.97 per cent, or 170 per cent higher," Beck told dpa.

The losses do not seem to be putting stores off the new technology, however.

"Both loved and loathed by consumers, with the phrase 'unexpected item in the bagging area' striking dread into many a shopper, self-scan technologies are growing in use and likely to become even more prominent," Beck said.

Last update: Wed, 03/08/2016 - 20:44

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