Walmart has told Business Insider that it has been using AI to surveil the checkout process at 1,000 Walmart stores in the United States. The system, what they call ‘Missed Scan Detection’, focuses on the check out process to reduce shrinkage.
Shrinkage is loss due to errors (items not scanned), theft, fraud, and other miscellaneous problems. Experts estimate that shrinkage for Walmart might exceed $4 billion annually. Obviously, if they could reduce this loss by any percentage, this would be a huge gain.
Everseen is one of the companies providing this technology. The company focuses on what they term human-centric AI design: “we empower humans to do what humans do best; starting with skill and activity to produce the best possible outcome” Everseen is based in Cork, Ireland. In other projects unrelated to Walmart, Everseen also works on 0line (pronounced ‘zero line’), which is a ‘check-out free solution’ (i.e., the customer just picks up items in the market and walks out; the items are automatically charged to their existing account.) We have seen this technology developing in other stores, and will certainly change the way consumers shop.
Walmart has opened a state of the art store, which makes wide use of AI technology, in Levittown, New York. This store, called the Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL). AI uses sensors on the shelves, as well as cameras throughout the store, to determine which goods needs to be restocked. This saves employee time; instead of determining which goods they need to bring from the back, or order from the warehouse, the employees know exactly which goods to bring to the shelves. Although Walmart says most of the data is only stored for a week, obviously this type of data can be used to improve their predictive capabilities: which goods are in high demand on a Friday afternoon, versus a Wednesday morning.
The IRL embraces the AI advantage. The store features a welcome center for customers (visitors?) to learn about AI in general, but also how it is used in the IRL. Additionally, the servers behind the AI are on display; customers can observe the technology at work.
No Checkout Required
Walmart has started to use checkout-less stores. In Canada, a store has started an express lane checkout. Customers simply walk through the lane and their purchases are automatically charged to their existing account. Of course, Amazon is still leading in this field, with a dozen or more Amazon Go stores already operating. Regardless, this is still evolving technology that will rapidly change retail, once it is fully developed.