Woolworths introduces controversial new safety measures
- The trial uses high-tech sensors and an automatic gate
- Technology used only in self-checkout areas
- Retailer hopes to tackle rise in shoplifting
Woolworths is testing new security technology that stops a shopper from existing without paying to combat a rise in shoplifting.
The supermarket group is testing the technology at its Fairfield store in Sydney’s west from Wednesday, with other stores across NSW and Victoria to follow.
It’s the first time Woolworths has used the technology, which includes rooftop sensors and an automatic door at its self-service checkouts.
When customers enter the self-checkout area, sensors on the roof identify a person who has entered the vicinity and receive a digital ID.
Next to the digital ID there will be a red marker until the customer has paid at one of the checkouts, in which case it will turn green.
The trial includes automatic doors (pictured) at the exit from the self-service checkout area and will only open if a shopper has paid for their goods
A sensor on the roof will identify shoppers in the self-checkout area with a unique digital ID and send a signal to the exit door if the shopper has paid
If a shopper has paid, the sensors will then send a signal to open the exit door, allowing them to leave.
However, if the sensors identify that a shopper has not paid – either by pretending to pay or by trying to exit directly – the doors will remain closed and block their exit.
Woolworths said Daily Mail Australia shoppers will remain unidentifiable throughout the process as the technology does not use facial recognition or CCTV.
Shoppers are assigned a digital ID when using self-checkout, which is removed as soon as they leave the store.
The retail giant has seen a spike in shoplifting and hopes technology will help tackle theft in its stores.
“We recently started a trial of new sensor technology in the store to help reduce stock loss and keep our customers and team safe,” Woolworths told Daily Mail Australia.
“This is one of many initiatives, both covert and overt, to minimize instances of retail crime in the group’s store networks.
“All retailers are experiencing an increase in retail crime, and we are no exception.
“We continue to look at additional measures that will help reduce retail crime, however, we understand that most customers do the right thing at checkout.”
Sensors track customers as they move through the self-checkout area (pictured), with shoppers remaining unidentifiable throughout the process
The sensors explained by the supermarket will only be located in the self-service checkout and express lane areas.
The trial will expand to five more Woolworths stores over the next month, including Moorabbin, Millers Junction and Woodgrove in Victoria and Wentworthville and Randwick Metro in New South Wales.
Woolworths provided information and signage about the trial at the front of the Fairfield store in multiple languages for its customers.
Shoplifting costs Australian retailers up to $9 billion a year, and it’s estimated that less than 20% of retail crimes are reported to the police, according to the National Retail Association.