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The retailer began investing in the surveillance program, called Missed Scan Detection, several years ago in an effort to combat shrinkage — loss due to several causes including theft, scanning errors, waste and fraud, Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins told FOX Business on Monday. She said the company was investing in the program in an effort to help customers and make stores safer.
"Walmart takes the security and safety of our stores seriously. We want our customers to have a pleasant shopping experience and have invested over half a billion dollars to prevent, reduce and deter crime in our stores and parking lots," Jenkins said in a statement. "The Missed Scan Detection program is only part of that effort."
"We are continuously investing in people, programs and technology to keep our stores and communities safe," she added.
The AI-powered cameras — which use an algorithm to capture any items that aren't scanned properly during checkout — rolled out to more than 1,000 stores about two years ago, according to Business Insider, who first reported the news last week. Jenkins told FOX Business that Walmart has seen positive results since the cameras were added to the stores, adding that shrinkage has reduced overall.
The U.S. retail economy overall lost an estimated $46.8 billion in 2017 due to shrinkage, about 1.33 percent of sales, the National Retail Federation reported.
Alan O'Herlihy, CEO of Everseen which provides Walmart with the AI technology, said the majority of checkout-related issues are not intentional. In some instances, customers forget to include items left at the bottom of the carts or cashiers don’t properly scan an item.
"People make mistakes. In terms of shrinkage, or loss, that's the main source," O’Herlihy told Business Insider, adding that milk is a common item that’s not scanned properly.
"People find it hard to scan milk. Sometimes they get frustrated and they just don't scan it," he said.