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Neighbo(u)rly Perspectives: Security Advances for Self-Checkout and Frictionless Shopping

Customers want their checkout experiences to be fast and easy. The increase in self-checkout aisles in recent years gives shoppers a convenient way to bypass conventional checkout lines. 

Frictionless shopping takes this concept a step further. It allows customers to enter a cashier-less store, select items, and leave without going through the checkout. Shoppers provide a credit card, debit card, or payment-enabled phone to enter the store. Each item’s cost is deducted automatically from a customer’s payment method.

Various technologies, including overhead video cameras, motion sensors, IoT devices, and machine learning, detect the selected items and match them to a customer’s account. 

Transaction Tools for Enhanced Security

Whether it’s an unstaffed gas station, a cashier-less grocery, or the self-checkout at a drug store, retailers want to prevent losses. With new checkout technologies, they can re-evaluate their security methods to prevent theft.

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Many times, security challenges center on internal fraud or customer error. Employees who are familiar with point-of-sale (POS) and checkout systems may use workarounds to fool the systems. Customers find ways of bypassing scanners at self-checkout or gaining false entry into frictionless stores. Even innocent customer errors, such as selecting an apple instead of a pear during self-checkout, can contribute to losses.

As checkout technology changes, security technology must change with it to spot and prevent internal fraud and human mistakes. Video surveillance remains a strong component of retail security at checkout, though it doesn’t offer adequate safeguards on its own. When you combine video with other security tools, such as transaction data tracking and analytics, you can gain clearer forensic evidence of theft.

Transaction tracking and reporting provide critical components for securing checkouts. Staff can validate suspicious transactions against associated video. For example, they may pinpoint inconsistencies between video and customer receipts to confirm price tag switching. Using video with evidence relating to each transaction, they can identify theft or determine if further investigation is needed. 

Unified Security Platforms That Integrate New Technology

A unified security platform provides the best foundation to integrate various technologies into a retailer’s security system. From a single interface, a security team can monitor video, see transaction data, and share reports with stakeholders or third parties for further investigation.

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When based on an open architecture foundation, the system can accommodate newer components and software, such as sensors and data-intensive machine learning. The ability to unify the latest technology with the existing system makes it easier to support the evolving needs for frictionless shopping and self-checkout.

A unified security platform also provides remote oversight to spot security or safety issues at cashier-less locations. For example, by combining live video with automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) data, security teams can quickly identify vehicles on a watchlist. They can notify on-site staff or local law enforcement to respond to the suspicious vehicles. All of this can be done from a regional office or corporate headquarters instead of each store.

Cybersecurity to Protect Customers and Assets

Since frictionless shopping uses large amounts of customer data and frequently relies on apps and devices connected to the internet, such stores are attractive targets for criminals. A customer’s personal data can be compromised or misused, putting bank account, credit card, or biometric data at risk. 

Likewise, malware or ransomware can be delivered through a smart IoT device, putting a retailer’s operations at risk. Any hardware or software connected to a retailer’s network is a potential gateway for cyber criminals to access private data stored on servers connected to that network. This creates cyber threat risks for both customers and retailers.

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A unified physical security system provides a solution. The system can monitor devices and software connected to a retailer’s store from a single interface with built-in dashboards. When a cyber threat is detected, the system notifies the security or IT team for a quick response.

Mitigating Added Risks

Checkout conveniences will continue to be a differentiator for retailers. They provide competitive advantages and practical options for locations where staffing is limited. However, they also entail added risks.

Retailers can plan now for the security risks associated with changing checkout capabilities. It’s a good idea to think about strategies to position your existing security systems to handle common risk factors from human error, internal fraud, and cyber threats.

A unified security platform that integrates video, transaction monitoring, data analytics, and remote oversight is well suited to support frictionless shopping and self-checkout. Using one integrated security system, you can expand your integration of new checkout technologies quickly while minimizing losses.

Nada Ebeid is the Canada regional director, signature brands at Genetec.

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