Why honest people may steal from self-service checkouts

Retailers' losses are more than double when they implement self-service checkouts or mobile scanning technologies, a report from Leicester University in the United Kingdom found.

Researches interviewed staff and visited retailers in the U.S., U.K., Belgium and the Netherlands where self-service and mobile scanning checkouts were used. Researches also analyzed loss ratio data.

Here are five findings from the study.

1. Self-service checkouts and smartphone apps used to make purchases generated loss ratios of nearly 4 percent. That is 122 percent higher than the average loss ratio in the European grocery sector (3 percent).

2. Of the one million shopping trips audited by researchers, 850,000 out of six million items were not scanned.

3. Self-service checkouts can potentially promote theft by removing human contact from the shopping process, most notably in the final payment stage. As a result, consumer risk perception or control is reduced, according to the report.

4. Customers who use self-service checkouts or mobile apps can cite faulty technology, problems with barcodes or lack of understanding as reasons for not scanning items. Frustration with the technology may also lead some customers to feel their theft is justified.   

5. It is difficult for retailers to identify if customers purposefully or unintentionally did not scan items. In some cases, 10 percent of items not scanned are due to customers forgetting to use the technology consistently, according to the report.   

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