While other stores nix self-checkout lanes, Home Depot figures out how to STOP thieves with its version

Self-checkout woes had one home improvement retailer resorting to an artificial intelligence fix to fend off shoplifters.

No matter the public relations spin being applied, the once brilliant luster of non-employee-operated point-of-sales lanes has since faded for many nationwide retailers. While some have seen fit to reduce self-checkout hours of operation, or even outright do away with the option, Home Depot announced to investors that they had an alternative strategy to combat five-finger discounts.

During the first quarter earnings call on May 14, Home Depot’s executive vice president of U.S. Stores and International Operation, Ann-Marie Campbell, detailed how the retailer had expanded their use of Computer Vision, an AI machine learning technology, to flag carts that could pose a risk of loss for the location

“Computer Vision can identify complex carts or high-value carts and signal a cashier to help the customer with their basket to ensure all products are scanned and accounted for,” the vice president explained after telling investors, “Additionally, we have also deployed this technology in our self-checkout corral to help us mitigate shrink.”

Store shrink constitutes loss to inventory volume arising from administrative errors, fraud and most commonly theft.

Myriad leftist policies have combined to cause woes for retailers including soft-on-crime prosectors facilitating recidivism, defunding the police to reduce deterrents, increases to the minimum wage that force labor participants out of the market and inflation that has severely limited consumers’ purchasing power.

Home Depot, and improvement stores like it, could also feel the brunt in the housing market as high interest rates have put off many Americans’ plans to buy or sell homes, reflected in decisions to postpone remodels.

Where stores had previously seen self-checkouts as a cost-saver to reduce payroll, in April Walmart calculated that “traditional” employee-operated lanes were better for their bottom line in certain stores, albeit packaged as an opportunity for associates “to provide more personalized and efficient service.”

Meanwhile, Target limited the number of items for self-checkout lanes while also allowing for limited hours and Dollar General was cutting back on the option, removing their customer-operated kiosks from more than 300 locations because of shoplifting concerns.

“While self-checkout has contributed to the convenient proposition for our customer in certain stores,” CEO Todd Vasos said on Dollar General’s December earnings call, “it does not reduce the importance of a friendly, helpful employee who is there to greet customers and assist while the checkout process is happening.”

AI had other applications in Home Depot stores outside of shrink as Campbell detailed to investors, “What’s really exciting is how we are also now leveraging Computer Vision for other applications across the store. For example, Computer Vision helps us maintain the integrity of our base by ensuring that the products on the shelf meets our quality standards.”

Overall, stock in Home Depot had seen a more than 2% drop since the beginning of the year, but an increase of more than 16% since the same point a year earlier.

Kevin Haggerty


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