How do stores with self-check out lanes ensure that all products bought are accounted for?

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Other than an employee or two standing by, it seems to be riding on customer trust. Wouldn’t a company want to only have cashier lanes, so they can ensure that all products taken from a store are bought fairly?

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Honestly, the money saved by having to hire less people to manage check-out lines ends up making up for the occasional item that doesn’t get scanned. The majority of people aren’t thieves, and will be honest when scanning their groceries. These stores see how much money they made before and after self-check out, and have found that they are saving money by having them, even factoring in inventory checks to see how much is getting stolen or lost.

The kiosk and tell when you’ve put an unknown object in the bagging area and people are less likely to try and overtly steal things when they are in a rather open and public area. If you’re going to steal something, you’re not doing it at a check out lane, you’re doing it in the aisles where you can be hidden from view. After that, it doesn’t matter whether you go to a lane with a cashier or not.

The common answer is that the costs saved on a cashier, make up for the cost of stolen goods.

The reality is that cashiers dont prevent shoplifting anyway.
A shoplifter who’s willing to risk cheating at the self-checkout is also willing to stuf some items down their parts before walking past a cashier.

A few things to discourage theft, such as employees watching customers, cameras at each checkout monitoring the customer, scales to detect that an item was scanned and placed in the bagging area, etc. Stores also account for any theft by raising prices, so the customers who are paying for their items are making up for those who aren’t.

They don’t. They budget shoplifting. They do this anyway, even with manual checkouts. But savings from automatic checkouts more than compensate any potential increase of shoplifting.