Big Y Anti-Sweethearting System Now Installed in Half of its Stores

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Big Y Anti-Sweethearting System Now Installed in Half of its Stores

Big Y is more than halfway through its chainwide rollout of anti-sweethearting technology that laverages the chain’s existing overhead cameras to detect the theft of unpaid items left in the shopping cart at the checkout.

The system, Checkout Vision Systems from StopLift, was developed to detect unpaid merchandise left in either the middle of the basket (MOB) or bottom of the basket (BOB).

“StopLift will enable us to improve our cashier work force overall through better training as well as better systems to detect and control employee theft,” said Mark Gaudette, director of loss prevention at Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y, which operates 56 stores. “This type of theft has been costing the retail industry $13 billion a year and, before StopLift technology became available, there had been no way to detect it. With the new MOB and BOB capability, we can significantly reduce our shrink.”

Retailers traditionally track loss at the checkout through data mining, but since MOB, BOB and other sweethearting schemes involve items not being scanned, there’s no data to mine.

StopLift’s computer vision technology -- patent-pending in more than 30 countries -- visually determines what occurs during each transaction to immediately identify fraud at the checkout. In the process of monitoring the security video, it flags the transaction as suspicious and quickly reports the incident, identifying the cashier and the date and time of the theft.

This means that dishonest associates can be identified on the basis of video evidence the first time they conduct a fraudulent transaction, rather than months or even years down the road, significantly reducing inventory shrinkage, deterring future theft and boosting profitability.

“By using existing overhead cameras, rather than requiring the purchase of new dedicated hardware, our technology enables retailers to address this present and growing problem,” said Malay Kundu, CEO of StopLift, which is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

Other supermarket chains that have installed StopLift’s technology include Safeway and Hannaford.