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Goodbye self-checkout? Retailers rethinking the convenience because of thieves

Self Serve Checkouts
Posted at 5:01 PM, Nov 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 16:28:44-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — It's a convenience for shoppers and thieves: self-checkout.

Many companies are now working to limit theft happening at the self-checkout register, but you could see fewer at some stores.

Fox 4 took to the parking lots of Walmart and Target in Cape Coral to see how shoppers feel about this.

Ken Leppelmeier, one Walmart shopper says he uses self-checkout nearly each time he visits.

"I think it's very convenient for a lot of people," he said. "To see it go would be a disappointment."

To try and avoid losing more money, Piyush Shah, a supply chain management expert and business school professor at Florida Gulf Coast University says Walmart is investing in AI.

They have cameras to document if people are stealing. Shah say Target is creating new policies where shoppers can only use self-checkout if they have under 10 items.

"Think of the self-checkouts in most large organizations as a created investment," Shah said. "It’s a lot of money they’ve already pumped in."

39% of shoplifting in grocery stores occurs at self-checkout, even while some of it could be unintentional, Shah said.

“Now we have research that can clearly show that stores with larger and more self-checkouts have as much as 4% more theft than stores that don’t," he explained.

Shah believes the fix to theft is limiting self-checkout systems where possible.

“So what you’ll see is smaller stores that have had some self-checkouts but not had millions of dollars of investments [in installing many kiosks], they will go back," he said. "But Walmart and Target will still try to make this work."