System Theft (shoplifting) 2. System failures Theft (shop

System Limitations and recommendation

Tesco self-checkout system provide mechanisms in which customers do their own purchases without waiting in long tedious cashier lines. It has several advantages ranging from customer satisfaction to economic growth throughout the company. There are also some limitations to consider. Such as

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1.       Theft (shoplifting)

2.       System failures


Theft (shop lifting)

Shoplifters use many different techniques (see Gill, 2007; Hayes and Cardone, 2006 for an overview).

SCOs typically have a barcode reader, a weighing scale for loose purchases such as fruit and vegetables, a ‘bagging area’ (often also utilizing scales to validate the passage of items from scanning to bagging) and a payment system, usually accepting cash and card transactions, and increasingly also payments via mobile phone (E.Taylor, 2016)

Self-checkout systems reduce the customer to employee interaction making them more vulnerable to shop lifting or theft.


Figure 1. preliminary work by researchers Kate Letheren and Paula Dootson suggests people are less likely to steal from a human employee than an inanimate object. (Mortimer & Dootson, 2017)



SCO theft occurs mainly by switching SWIPERS. Switching SWIPERS are thieves who swap bar codes to get cheap prices for expensive goods.

Bar code swapping has been a major concern in most super or hyper markets that operate with a SCO (self-checkout) system. Self-checkout systems don’t have customer to employee interaction. This makes it easier for customers to get expensive goods or products easily by swapping the bar codes.


Theft of self-checkout systems may be seen in both malicious (customers deliberately not scanning the item) and non-malicious (for example, incorrect prices accidently being transacted or aborted sales due to customer). (E.Taylor, 2016).


Survey administrators


of participants

% of shoppers that admitted to stealing at the SCO

Items stolen

Items stolen Main reasons given (in order of prevalence)





·         Fruit & vegetables (67%)
·         Bakery
·         (41%) Confectionery (32%)
·         Toiletries (26%)

Gave up trying to scan something
wouldn’t register (57%)
Less likely to get caught (51%)
The machine is easy to fool (47%)
Didn’t have enough money (32%)
At the time I didn’t realize it hadn’t scanned (6%)





Fruit & vegetables Salad boxes (discount theft)










System failure

Self-checkout system due to complexity is more vulnerable to failure. For example, simple problems like broken weighing scales for unpacked goods to complex system software failure can prevail. This might waste time and might lead to diminution of reliability. low reliability brings up frustrations and leads loyal customers to theft and indirectly affects the organizations economic structure.



Most annoying issue when using self-service checkouMost annoying self-service checkout issue % of customers ‘annoyed’


‘Unexpected item in bagging area’                                                            83%

Staff being slow to respond                                                                        73%

Other issues requiring staff                                                                         61%

Bar codes not scanning                                                                                60%

Wrong prices                                                                                                  52%

Person in front not knowing what to do                                                   51%

Problems with bags                                                                                      47%

Checkouts out of order                                                                                45%

Problems with payment methods                                                              45%


              Source: Arnfield (2014).

               Arnfield R (2014) Nearly one in two U.K. shoppers need help with self-service checkout. Retail

Customer Experience. Available at:

in-two-uk-shoppers-need-help-with-self-service-checkout/ (accessed 24 December 2017).










Theft (shop lifting)

Theft in self check out systems can be stopped or prevented in different ways. This can be done by Staffing self-checkout areas with employees that are trained to help customers in need and tighten security. This helps frustrated customers to get help fast and prevents them from stealing.

Theft can also be prevented by Increasing CCTV cameras around the check out area to tighten security even further. CCTV cameras should be placed in two Major areas at the self-checkout areas, Entrances and exits (for facial recognition) and customer transaction points(to prevent SWIPERS). More CCTV  in those areas will result in less theft.














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