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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  1. Sonia Rani posted on April 16, 2019

    Good initiative call by Woolies and Coles, it will help others too for safe and reliable shopping. Looking forward to see this implementation in the stores.

  2. Fina Hartson posted on May 12, 2019

    Why do people steal in the first place? Poverty, laziness, criminality, mental illness? A protest against Corporations? Im reminded of when I saw a beautifully dressed woman in her late 60's with gold earings, bracelet and perfectly coifed hair. I smiled at her and she smiled back and she went back to browsing. I then saw her place some mascara and eyeliner into her pocket and walk out of the store. (Coles). I was gob smacked. I didnt have time to alert anyone and would of looked silly going to the counter saying that I had seen someone stealing but they had already left. But I did mention it anyway and recieved the look that I had expected from the shop assistant at the cigarette stand. I described the lady and the shop assistant said "Ohhh it sounds like Mrs B...., shes been shopping here for years. Her son pops in every 2 weeks & pays for the things she may have forgotten to pay" I thought this Coles was awesome to be so understanding and it confirmed again that you cant judge a book by its cover. I'm glad that I didnt make a fuss. As for robots & cameras watching our every move. We are definitely living in the age of Big Brother and it scares me how compliant people are. Just bring in more staff/security and pay them. No to more cameras and robots. Next minute they bring in armed robot security... UGH!!

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