Self Checkout Remote Monitoring Solution

Over the last few years, we have seen the full rollout and improvements to grocery Self Check Out (SCO), however in the retail apparel environment, it has been a slow burner. There have been many reasons for this, average basket size, customer expectations, EAS detachment, security risks and cost.   

In retail we know that the ‘customer experience’ comes first, however, the service expectation isn’t always about one to one with a member of staff or having a personal shopper. 

The retail world has changed and is now more about price and convenience. This is why the apparel world must keep pace. Yes, the luxury sector will remain a personal shopping environment, but again, just because you have more disposable income doesn’t always mean that you don’t want speed and ease.  

The grocery sector has seen a rise in shrink as a result of SCO implementation, despite dedicated staff located at SCO locations, 10inch CCTV monitors affixed to the SCO pole, EAS barriers, physical barriers, data mining, loyalty card algorithms and weigh scales, all designed to reduce the opportunist and OCG alike.  

More customers are now tempted to ‘under-ring’ or ‘scan avoid’, a practice more likely to increase with the current cost of living situation.  

Selling apparel using SCO can be achieved, but there are challenges, the ability to weigh a product is not as beneficial because garments of the same weight may have different price points, the volume isn’t necessarily there to justify a member of staff manning the tills, and the average unit price is higher, so the subsequent loss is greater. RFID, if in use, may provide some protection but may also require EAS deactivation and staff intervention. 

In the major apparel retailers we protect, we provide store detectives to support Loss Prevention strategies around the SCO areas. Although we would love to provide more SDs based on the ROI, it’s not a single solution, it just means we must confront potentially aggressive offenders, putting ours and the public’s safety at risk. That’s why it’s essential that technology and specifically effective SCO controls are in place to reduce the risk of theft. 

Over the 30 years I’ve been in retail loss prevention, I have seen many great innovative ideas, many counts of reinventing the wheel and some solutions in my view could have changed the landscape, with only politics or personalities getting in the way. 

However, with non-grocery SCO solutions I see one solution that could change the landscape; The retailer installs SCO, without all the overkill of security installations that are not only aesthetically unpleasing but can also create a feeling of being accused of wrongdoing. 

A simple £100 three in one camera is installed above the SCO checkout that contains a microphone, speaker, lens and on the edge AI.   

‘Scan avoidance’ is switched on and configured in the CCTV system or operating platform, that will show when there are transactions not being completed correctly.   

The epos system is linked to the same CCTV system through the current operating platform or via @Transpeye (or others). By overlaying the AI technology with the epos data, you can use the data mining and AI to identify who is not utilising the SCO as they should, or if they need assistance.  

An Alert for assistance or potential scan avoidance/theft is pushed through to a ‘remote’ control room operator based at a GSOC. The operator confirms the alert and has a number of options, dependent on the assignment instructions issued by the customer: 

  1. Utilising Push to Talk (PTT) technology, they talk with the till supervisor and direct them to the SCO area to support the customer/potential offender.
  2. Utilising PTT, the operator summons the security officer for intervention.
  3. Utilising just the lights built into the CCTV camera, a white light is flashed, just to let the customer know they are being watched.  
  4. Utilising the inbuilt speaker and pre-recorded messages in the CCTV camera, they play: 
  5. ‘soft message’  – reminding the customer to scan all products, whilst also flashing a ‘white light’ from the camera.
  6. ‘more stern message’ – requesting the supervisor to attend the till to assist the customer, again flashing a white light from the camera.
  7. Strong message requesting security to the till area, whilst flashing a red and blue light from the camera.
  8. Utilising the remote intervention, the control room operator can speak with the customer remotely via the cctv camera speaker, being very specific about the issue rather than playing a pre-recorded message, for example, “Please rescan the black shirt, it has not registered accurately on the till”. Alternatively, if a stronger announcement is needed, then it may require ‘This is security, we are remotely monitoring you, please be aware security officers have been notified and will be with you shortly’. (Whilst flashing the red/blue light.) Or, for example, if the issue is service related, “We are aware that the product wont scan, please bear with us, a customer assistant is on their way, we apologise for the inconvenience”.

The fantastic advantage to using remote monitoring and intervention, is that one operator can monitor multiple locations from a central GSOC. That may be different banks of SCO locations in one store, or across multiple stores.

Therefore, instead of needing one customer advisor in each store to be allocated to the SCO area, they can continue with their tasks or customer service role and only be summoned to the till by the remote operator when needed.   

You may be thinking that this is an expensive solution, but it’s not. We can monitor up to 5 SCO banks with one dedicated controller. That’s saving potentially 4 employees if they were physically on site. And what’s even more attractive and offers a further increased ROI, is at only £10 per hour for a dedicated controller for your business, potentially you have 5 stores tills remotely monitored all day every day, for less than the UK’s National Living Wage.  

By utilising this system and solution, the application is endless and can further bring ROI to instore surveillance: Fitting room control, manned till intervention, aggression intervention, shopfloor monitoring (theft & service), Health & Safety monitoring, low footfall area deployment, back of house monitoring, cashing up monitoring, lone worker monitoring, etc. 

To find out more, we would be happy to deliver an insights session and proof of concept deployment.  

Contact Mitch at [email protected]

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