Australian retailers adopt ‘high tech’ to catch shoplifters

Shoplifting: how serious is the problem?

Theft is estimated to cost the entire Australian industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year, with major supermarkets reporting significant spikes over the past year. Fred Harrison, CEO of Ritchies IGA supermarkets told national ABC radio in July that there had been a «significant increase in shoplifting» amid the rising cost of living.

Australia’s ABC News, citing owners of major grocery retailers, reports that to combat theft, supermarkets are beginning to implement technological, and sometimes not-so-technological, solutions.

Social media is coming to the rescue

Jean-Paul Drake, owner of Drakes, a large grocery retail chain, says that thefts have increased by 236% over the past year, costing the company about $10 million a year. The entrepreneur specifies that most often expensive, easily resellable products are stolen: Japanese wagyu beef and expensive cosmetics.

However, the retailer has found a clever solution — by reviewing CCTV cameras, he finds the thieves, and then posts footage from the cameras on social networks. And then concerned citizens identify the thieves and the materials are transferred to the police:

«According to our observations, the rate of catching thieves after the transfer of video materials to the police, is 80%» — says the entrepreneur.

Strengthening the security of retail outlets

Coles CEO Leah Weckert also said theft and markdowns are costing the retail giant.

She said thefts are up about 20 percent year-over-year and organized crime is the cause.

To stop thieves, Coles is spending big on cart locks and smart gates that can detect if someone leaves the store without paying.

Increased spending on security

Woolworth’s CEO Brad Banducci also claims that the theft problem has gotten much worse in the last year.

To address this problem, Woolworths has spent $50 million to install scanners to help use self-service checkouts. The company is also implementing a number of other measures.

«When you enter the store, you go through a gate, now called a double gate, that prevents you from just pushing the cart outside.»

He said more than 500 stores have also installed systems that ensure merchandise is properly scanned before leaving the store.

Retailers are facing a common theft problem and are addressing it each to the best of their ability and ingenuity. Clearly, the industry needs versatile, efficient, high-tech solutions with a justifiable cost to invest in such solutions. Video analytics and predictive technologies should help businesses reduce losses and improve security.