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Coles, Woolies bump up tech to tackle theft and safety issues

Australia’s big two supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, are trialling new technologies to combat retail theft and ensure better safety in stores.

On Friday, Woolworths opened a high tech store in Gregory Hills, Sydney, boasting a safety robot and cameras at self-serve checkouts.

The safety bot roams the aisles in search of hazards such as spills and alerts staff members to attend to the issue before any potential injury occurs.

“We’ve been working hard to reduce trips and slips in our stores, but we still see too many. We’re trialling new technology in Gregory Hills to see if it can help make the store safer for our customers and team,” a spokesperson for Woolworths told Inside Retail.

The retailer is also trialing CCTV technology at self-serve checkouts in the new store to tackle retail theft.

“We know the vast majority of our customers do the right thing at self-serve checkouts. This is a security measure we’re trialling for those that don’t,” the spokesperson said.

The store has eight manned checkout lanes as well as 40 customer service team members for those who prefer human interaction at the checkout.

Woolworths has been careful to ensure cameras can’t view the PIN pad and the technology is fully compliant with payment card security standards.

Rival Coles is taking similar action to protect itself against thieves. With more than eight million transactions completed on self serve checkouts at Coles each week, the retailer is working to reduce the occurrence of assisted checkout theft.

Coles has installing tablet-sized cameras in a small number of stores which captures and displays footage of consumers scanning each item above the checkout monitors to act as a deterrent.

“While the large majority of our customers do the right thing, it’s not fair that a small number of people get away with doing the wrong thing,” a spokesperson for Coles told Inside Retail.

“Like a number of retailers, we work with police to reduce shoplifting. There are also trained covert security officers in our stores nationally and they’re catching hundreds of thieves every week and reporting them to police.”

Coles is encouraging customers to provide feedback about their shopping experience through its online channel ‘Tell Coles’.

This story originally appeared on sister-site Inside FMCG. 

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