The Disruptive Future of Retail Loss Prevention

In December 2016, Amazon Go was introduced to the world. The premise of the new ‘Just Walk-Out technology’ store was to empower consumers to walk-in, pick up any products, and track it all through a virtual shopping cart. “When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”  

No Lines, No Checkout. (No, Seriously, Go Steal Stuff)

Within weeks, of the Amazon Go video release, RT Shorts (a viral YouTube Channel with 9+ million followers) introduced us to “Anything Goes”. The parody focused on retail theft with no lines, no checkout required.

The Consumer Self-Checkout Global Revolution

Amazon Go is reflective of an increasing trend towards retail self-service.

  • Walmart is offering a Scan & Go capability in several stores that allows shoppers to use a mobile app to scan barcodes of items they want to buy, pay for them in-app with one touch and show the in-app receipt to a greeter as they leave the store.” Scan & Go is available in 20+ Walmart store locations primarily across Texas and Tennessee. 
  • A similar Scan & Go application is being tested at 15+ Kroger stores primarily in Ohio.
  • Currently, there are 10 Bingo Box self-service convenience stores opened in China. Plans are for an additional 5000 Bingo Box locations the balance of this year. 
  • Full self-service automated convenience stores are now a focus in multiple countries. Below is a July 2017 short list from Fung Business Intelligence.


While there are still challenges with the public opening of Amazon Go, above list of pilots confirm that it is only a matter time before these new lower operating cost self-service platforms join the global retail operating model.

Consumer Trends Will Collide with Increased Theft Opportunities

The accelerating trend towards unassisted self-checkout deployments will lead to increased retail shrink. To understand this, let’s revisit the ‘theft triangle’.

Very simply, “when there is a need and there is little risk, along with opportunity, the likelihood of theft creeps into your business. In fact, when the three points of the triangle meet, in most cases, theft will occur.”


Self-service technologies increase the opportunity for theft. What is stopping the substitution of higher cost items for lower priced scanned products? In bulk large shopping trips, how can a greeter verify all the items purchased? If there a need and perceived little risk, theft will occur. 

The Digitally Empowered Consumer

Retail is at major megatrend crossroad. Mobile empowered consumers want to shop at their own convenience across an increasingly number of onmichannels. The extension of the smartphone as a shopping device in a physical store is a natural evolution of the retail model. 

Retailers are correctly responding by increasing their technology spend in innovation areas that reduce multi-channel shopping friction. Winning solutions of the future will focus on brand value differentiation, real time consumer loyalty programs, immersive customer experiences, and smart supply chains. 


The Loss Prevention CXX Moment

The Loss Prevention Profession is also at a major crossroad. Combating retail shrink will be more challenging in a digitally empowered consumer world. 

Security business as usual will not be an option. The CXX suite will demand new loss prevention solutions that do not detract from differentiated immersive brand experiences. 

Similar to the response to the new consumer trends, a blend of engaged employees and technologies will lead to optimized solutions. For loss prevention this means exploring brand integrated security, increased video analytics, machine learning, data & visual zone deterrence discussed in the last post, and more prescriptive data analytics. 

The smartphone foreshadowed the disruption of traditional retail security models. Self-service applications / automated stores will accelerate the transformation of the profession. Ahead is a major CXX elevation moment for retail loss prevention. 



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