How self-service systems deal with shoplifting

Published on May 23, 2018

How self-service systems deal with shoplifting

    Issues of fraud and shoplifting are associated not only with customers, but also with staff. It is possible to conduct discussions about which of them is responsible for large losses. In practice, this indicator may vary depending on the assortment, the location of the outlet and the security features of a particular store. The experience of our customers shows that the ratio between the volume of losses from customers and staff is approximately 50 to 50, with a slight advantage in favor of the latter. That is why retailers are forced to fight on both flanks, and take advantage of self-service technologies to reduce losses.

    Perhaps you will immediately have a question: trusting customers to independently carry out almost all operations in the store: scanning, weighing and paying, you will probably have to face an increase in losses? However, independent studies show that after the introduction of modern self-service systems, store losses from theft, at least, do not increase, but, in most cases, decrease.

    Today, four self-service technologies are popular:

    • self-checkout counter (classic Self-Checkout);
    • separate scanning;
    • self scan;
    • hybrid box office.

    Each of these technologies has its own advantages and successfully solves the challenges facing various store formats. And, as a bonus, it helps to combat fraud both on the part of the buyer and the cashier. Let’s see how it works on the example of each technology separately.

    Self-checkout cash desk

    Self-Checkout - a special device that allows the buyer to independently scan, weigh and pay for goods. Retailers install it to unload the cash zone and reduce the need for personnel. Self-Checkout takes up less space than a classic cash register unit, which allows you to place more cash lines on an equal area. This solution is most effective with a small amount of goods in the basket and an uneven flow of customers.

    With such a self-service organization, personnel are not involved in working with cash and a scanner. And all operations performed by the buyer are controlled by an impartial machine. It is impossible to conspire with such a cashier, and she will not cheat - the latter is especially damaging to the store’s reputation: the cashier has cheated (even if not on purpose), but is perceived as if he had deceived the retailer.

    Since when working with the self-checkout counter, the buyer is assigned part of the functions of the cashier, the solution provides a security system that monitors the correctness of the operations performed. One of the classic options: a control system for goods by weight - the program knows the weight of all goods, and, invisibly to the buyer, checks it with each scan. Such a system is intelligent and self-learning.

    Sometimes the weight control system is equipped with sensors for pattern recognition and size measurement. But, this approach is rarely used, in view of its unreliability. In addition, any complication of the system leads to a slowdown in customer service. And the excessive "rigor" of the control system settings generates an excessive number of situations requiring personnel intervention.

    In fact, there are not so many situations where a client is trying to steal something. Often incidents arise due to the actions of the buyer, which can not always be put into the algorithm of the system. The system believes that something went wrong and sends a signal to the store staff. Therefore, in the settings of the security system, a balance must be struck between control and trust.

    An important digression. A rough estimate shows that about 95% of buyers never steal, 3% doubt it, and, if appropriate, they can try to cheat. Another 2% are those who will always try to deceive the store and professional thieves. It is practically pointless to fight with the latter; in any case, they will find a way to get around the obstacle both in the form of a regular cash desk and in the form of any self-service system. Therefore, it is the work with a doubting audience that brings the greatest result. Most often, in order to stop it, the mere fact of the presence of attentive personnel and video surveillance in the self-service zone is enough.

    Another important feature of Self-Checkout, in comparison with a regular cash register, is fully automatic cash processing. This almost eliminates the risk of accepting fake banknotes and attempted fraud under the scheme "I gave you more money - why is there so little change?"


    • the staff no longer has access to money, they can’t make mistakes in calculations, deceive the store or the buyer;
    • control of the correctness of scanning is shifted to an automatic security system, which eliminates the possibility of collusion with personnel;
    • The buyer’s settlements, including cash, are made using the payment module, which allows automatic control of the authenticity of banknotes, the amount of funds received and the amount of change being issued.

    Separate Scan (Scan & Pay)

    With the self-service technology “Separate Scanning” (Scan & Pay), the store employee does not make settlements with the buyer. It only scans the goods and generates a pre-check, according to which the buyer pays off at the payment terminal. As with the self-checkout counter, staff do not have access to the money supply. The only option for possible fraud: the scanner may not scan part of the goods to “their” customer. The same scenario is often used at regular ticket offices.

    However, the task of fraudsters is complicated compared to a regular cash register. After paying for purchases at the payment terminal, a ticket is printed out to the buyer along with a cashier's check to exit through the automatic gate. At this point, according to a special algorithm, an additional, inconspicuous control by security officers takes place. Based on the data from the scanning and payment system, the guard receives information about the composition of the paid basket and carries out remote visual control of goods in the shopping cart. Thus, in case of suspicion, the guard can check whether the actual contents of the package correspond to the paid receipt. In an ordinary store there is no such additional mechanism for controlling the goods of outgoing customers, and the wide cash line does not allow you to put a security guard near each exit.

    Unlike self-service checkout counters, separate scanning does not have a limit on the number of purchases in a basket, and works equally well with single goods as well as with full trolleys in hypermarkets. Scanners quickly scan and pack goods. You do not have to wait until the previous buyer makes a payment, since the calculations are carried out at payment terminals, which are significantly more than scanners. This approach allows you to effectively work with a large flow of customers and avoid queuing.


    • the scanner is not a cashier and does not have access to cash;
    • the buyer settles automatically at the payment station;
    • an additional control mechanism appears for all customers leaving the payment area.

    Hybrid box office

    A hybrid cash register is a cash register designed for the simultaneous operation of a seller and a buyer. On the one hand, the seller weighs, packs the goods or prepares the ordered dishes by entering the necessary data in the cash program interface. And on the other hand, the buyer interacts with the built-in payment module: deposits cash and receives change. Most often, this technology is used in small shops with a “through the counter” service format, cafes and other organizations where staff must participate in the preparation of the goods and shopping list, but the task is to exclude its contact with cash, including for hygienic reasons. What are the advantages of this technology?

    First, the seller again does not have access to the money supply.

    Secondly, the problem of hygiene is solved. You yourself know very well that money, to put it mildly, is not clean. Therefore, the seller cannot use the same gloves in which, for example, he puts the bun in your bag, accept payment, and then reach for other goods.

    Thirdly, the staff for the retailer is cheaper: the seller’s salary is always higher if he is dealing with the money supply.

    As for working with a buyer, the hybrid cash desk not only accepts payment, but also:

    • recounts cash - that is, the probability of human error is reduced when the buyer, for example, unintentionally did not report the bill. The converse is also true: errors with change are also excluded;
    • verifies the authenticity of banknotes and coins.

    However, the seller has no access to cash processing modules. And the necessary replenishment and collection can be, inter alia, carried out through special cassettes, by analogy with an ATM. It also complicates access to cash by unauthorized persons - unlike the cash drawer that opens during each payment.


    • personnel contact with cash is excluded;
    • settlements with buyers are carried out automatically with verification of the volume and authenticity of the money deposited;
    • money cannot be given by staff to a robber, which is especially true for small outlets, where security is not always available.

    Self scan

    Self-scanning is a technology that is gaining popularity recently, both in our country and abroad. It is especially promising in terms of working with customer loyalty and providing quick service without unnecessary expectations at the checkout. Introducing it, the retailer, as it were, tells the customers of the store: "We trust you."

    Self-scanning technology is organized as follows: retailer loyalty program participants entering the trading floor receive a personal scanner (specialized TSD) or launch a proprietary application on their own smartphone. With their help, they scan the selected goods before putting them in the basket, thus forming a shopping list - a future check. When a person completes the formation of the basket, he presses the "Pay" button in the smartphone application or on a personal scanner (TSD). And then he pays for the purchases either at the classic cash desk, or at the self-service checkout, or directly in the application.

    In order for the retailer to be sure that all the goods in the basket are scanned by the buyer, the system provides various algorithms that analyze the actions of a person in the trading floor. There can be dozens of such controlled parameters - the retailer adjusts them. In case the system detects suspicious actions, the buyer falls under the check: partial or full scanning of goods from the basket. It is also possible to manually assign a check by security personnel.

    Another important point in using self-scanning technology is that not all customers can take advantage of this privilege. It is available only to members of the loyalty system: which means that the buyer is not impersonal. Each person registered in it has a personal level of trust, which, together with customizable monitoring algorithms, helps the system ensure the safety of the outlet.


    • possible exclusion of personnel from cash transactions;
    • maintaining a personal level of trust allows you to focus exactly where it is necessary, providing additional freedom and convenience to loyal customers;
    • when using payment terminals, automatic control of the accuracy of settlements and the authenticity of cash is carried out;
    • exit from the payment zone is additionally controlled in the same way as it happens in the separate scanning system.

    All of these technologies have their own characteristics. It is important to remember that safety benefits are achieved not only by choosing a specific system, but also due to the proper configuration, implementation and organization of staff work. Each individual technology requires its own adjustments. Even the best safe will not save if the staff leaves the keys in the lock. A competent approach can only be implemented by contacting a serious organization with rich experience in implementing such projects. Otherwise, as often happens, the equipment and solution will be nothing more than the interior of the store, and the efficiency of using the funds spent on implementation will be negligible.