US market shuts down self-service after registering many thefts

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In 2019, Wegmans, a supermarket chain with a strong presence in the Northeastern United States, launched an app that allowed customers to scan, bag and pay for products while shopping and then skip the checkout line.

The app, Wegmans SCAN, promised customers a faster checkout and also allowed them to see the total of their purchases as they were made.

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This week, the network announced that it is shutting down the app because of shoplifting. “Unfortunately, the losses we are experiencing prevent us from continuing to make it available,” the company said in a statement. “We have made the decision to retire the app until we can make improvements that meet the needs of our customers and business.”

Wegmans did not provide details on the losses suffered from the app.

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The network debuted its “scan-and-go” app when Amazon was starting to ramp up its cashierless Amazon Go stores. Many other traditional retailers also rushed to keep pace with Amazon and introduced their own scan-and-go apps. Wegmans called it the “right technology” at the “right time”.

This type of mobile technology has become increasingly popular with younger and more technologically fluent shoppers. It also gained traction during the pandemic, as consumers looked to reduce close interactions with employees and other customers.

changing habits

But the scan-and-go has had unintended consequences for stores: higher levels of shoplifting, fraud and other losses than would normally occur in traditional checkout lines with cashiers.

In a 2018 report on losses associated with self-service systems, Adrian Beck, professor emeritus at the University of Leicester, UK, said that scan-and-go “currently offers far fewer opportunities to amplify risk and improve detection.” compared to the normal system of cashiers or self-service kiosks.

There are many types of scan-and-go thefts, including customers who intentionally don’t scan items or scan items cheaper than what they put in their carts.

Self-service abusers feel that it’s “easy to do, reaps big rewards, and even if they get caught, leads to little to no sanctions applied,” Beck said in the report, which analyzed 140 million transactions from scanning and exiting apps.

A retailer shared data with Beck comparing its stores with and without scan-and-go apps. Those with the technology had an 18% higher loss rate than those who didn’t.

Source: CNN Brasil

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