Gatekeeper In Loss Prevention Magazine Europe 2020

So what if loss prevention technology was truly agnostic in that it did not profile shoppers at all and simply stopped crime literally in its tracks? What if the potential store thief was physically unable to steal? What if, when it came to the "push comes to shove" moment - do I leave the store with this unpaid item? - they were physically prevented from doing so and simply had to walk away or be challenged? This is an attractive proposition for a number of retailers who, faced with a rising number of violent assaults on store colleagues, are looking at solutions that reduce confrontation and the flash points that lead to them in the first instance.

US cart management business Gatekeeper Systems claims to have recovered more than $100 million (£85 million) of what would have been "push outs" - customers leaving the stores with trollies laden with unpaid for merchandise - through the introduction of their Purchek solution, a locking-wheel technology for shopping trolleys.

Widely used in US stores, the technology is based upon location devices positioned inside the store that monitor a trolley's journey around the store. There is no intervention if the trolley follows a typically "good" customer journey. However, if it tries to leave the store with making no attempt to pay, the technology raises an alarm and, at the same time, locks the wheels.

"The wheel is the intervention", said UK Director Matthew Day. "It simply locks and brings the trolley to a slow halt that avoids a sudden jolt. It will no longer move. Part of its appeal is the non-confrontational nature of the solution. The wheels lock, and the trolley cannot be wheeled beyond the door. The non-paying customers are just "spooked" and in most cases walk away from the trolley in the direction of their cars. Accompanied by an alarm activation, the technology does not profile customers, and by the time staff retrieve the trolley, the customer has abandoned it and left."

Gatekeeper's YouTube channel features a number of US videos of the technology in play where the behaviour is demonstrated. Try as they might, the trolley simply can't be moved. The non-paying customer then sees a security guard or store colleague coming towards them and chooses to leave rather than get involved in a difficult discussion.

Now a number of UK supermarkets are trialling the technology to assess the impact on their own shrink numbers. There has been a noticeable move towards tracking non-payment since charges for plastic bags were introduced resulting in customers loading up their trolleys and leaving the store.

Richard Moreton, sales director for Gatekeeper, said, "It gets around the profiling issue because the technology is agnostic, and it can prevent the confrontation. Guards previously would have to have witnessed the SCONE protocol (select, conceal, observe, non-payment, and exit) before making an intervention. This would mean profiling a person of interest and watching them as they move around the store. Our solution doesn't require making any assumption or judgement."


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