The Eyes of Walmart are Upon You
We all know that most retail stores have hidden cameras, they're a modern replacement for the old two-way mirrors retail outlet managers used to hide behind to catch shoplifters.
True story: many years ago checking out at a major local grocery store with Basket in their name (I'd offered to do the shopping while my wife studied for a test or had a headache or something) and with two toddlers, I approached the checkout line with a full basket. And a gallon of milk was on the lower shelf of the basket.
I carefully unloaded the items while also supervising the children as they helped. While loading the items into the truck, I realized I hadn't run the milk through the checkout, the bag-boy didn't notice either during the checkout process. There was the evidence looking back at me on that lower basket shelf.
Like a low-level John Dillinger outside the bank he'd just robbed, my eyes darted around to see if the butcher, the baker along with the checker and security were running out to subdue me. Nothing.
After unloading the groceries at home I made a quick trip back to the Moss Bluff grocery and went to the courtesy booth to fess up to the manager. He greeted me with a smile, he was familiar with my family, we shopped there often. I had steeled myself to be arrested, handcuffed and given a ride out to the parish prison as I recounted in too much detail what had just happened.
He chuckled when I told him my wife was standing by to bail me out quickly so I would make work in the morning. I hadn't brought the boosted milk back with me (hiding evidence) so he called for a price-check on the brand and I paid at the booth, we both got a laugh out of it. He actually gave me a few in-store coupons for the next visit.
Of course that was an accident, an oversight as they say in politics. But apparently it happens a lot at the registers. The lines are long at rush hour, the checkers almost go catatonic as the assembly line of groceries speed by, the baggers quickly packing a million plastic bags and sometimes an item gets left out.
Walmart, as well as other US retailers lost an estimated $47 billion in 2017 alone due to scanning errors, items left in the bottom of the cart as well as checkout scanning errors when the checker just pushes an item along without hearing the beep of the laser reader. We're all human.
Of course, outright theft, waste and fraud contribute too.
Now Walmart has added thousands of cameras into each of their stores, not only are they in the ceilings and walls, now they're in the floors and low areas around the checkouts. And they're powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Since the system was first rolled out in 2017 in over 1,000 stores, the retail giant has reported positive results.
And it isn't just Walmart, tiny cameras and software are getting less and less expensive to install and maintain and as we all know, nothing is free. A store suffering from too much shrinkage as theft is called, has to raise prices all over to recover the cost of the lost items.
According to Alan O'Herlihy of the company that Walmart uses for the AI cam system People make mistakes. In terms of shrinkage or loss that's the main source. In fact he told Business Insider that milk is a common item that is not scanned properly.
Now I don't feel so bad.
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