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Walmart using artificial intelligence to deter theft in stores

AI is now watching for theft in the checkout lane at this major retailer

When you go to a big department store these days, you’re usually presented with two options: checkout at a traditional lane manned by a cashier or head over to the self-checkout variety that’s becoming more and more common.

Sometimes items in your cart don’t get scanned because, well, no one’s perfect. Let’s say you have a 12-pack of soda on the bottom rack of your cart you forgot about, and the store employee didn’t see it either. Honest mistake.

Then there are some folks who count on that kind of oversight to pull a fast one and use self-checkout to steal even more. It would be wise for them to reconsider if shopping at this major retailer because if something gets by any checkout lane without being scanned, cameras equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) could be watching.

AI used to curb theft at the checkout line

There’s a new surveillance program at work in Walmart stores across the country, according to a recent report by Business Insider. Computer vision technology is monitoring both traditional and self-checkout lanes alike, watching for accidentally missed or failed scans and of course, to deter theft.

Walmart calls it Missed Scan Detection and they started rolling it out about two years ago. Since then, the tech has made its way into more than 1,000 Walmart locations, which is about 20% of its stores in the U.S.




The AI-powered cameras watch for items that move past the checkout lane without getting scanned. If it detects such an instance, employees (not the robotic kind) will be immediately alerted and intervene. Hooray, our scariest sci-fi nightmares are finally coming true! So the PSA here is don’t steal things.

Spending money on AI to stop losing money

U.S. retailers lose a lot of revenue to theft and other types of losses; billions of dollars worth. Since Walmart started installing these systems, it says shrink rates have declined in those stores.

Ireland-based Everseen is one of several companies supplying Walmart with tech for the Missed Scan Detection program. Its CEO says most losses at checkouts are accidental and that one of the most commonly mis-scanned items is milk. Who knew?

If it sounds familiar, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar Go stores don’t even have checkouts. Instead, they use arrays of cameras and sensors to track shoppers then charge their account when they walk out with their items.

So, do you ever get that feeling you’re being watched? Maybe it used to be your imagination, but now it’s probably happening more often than you think.

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