Woolworths Trials New Anti-Theft Sensors in Select Stores

Woolworths has introduced a new security measure to address the growing “increase in retail crime” in its stores.

The company is testing birds-eye view sensors and automatic gates at express lanes and self-checkouts to deter potential thefts.

This technology debuted in their Fairfield store in Sydney on Wednesday and will be piloted in two other sites in NSW and three in Victoria in the upcoming months.

The overhead sensors provide customers with a digital ID depicted as a dot, which may not be easily visible. This dot remains red until a customer has paid. Once payment is made, it turns green, allowing them to exit via the checkout gate.

Throughout this process, individual customers will not be identifiable, and each digital ID is deleted as soon as the related customer leaves the store. If shoppers decide not to buy anything, they must use a different exit, as the checkout gate will not open for them.

Woolworths stated that this innovative technology aims to decrease inventory loss and offers another layer of protection to ensure the “safety of customers and the team.”

“All retailers are witnessing a surge in retail crime, and we are no different,” a Woolworths representative commented. “We are consistently exploring additional strategies to combat retail crime, but we recognize that the majority of our customers are honest at the checkout. This initiative is among several tactics, both hidden and evident, to reduce occurrences of in-store theft across our brand.”

Coles has also noted an uptick in supermarket theft, catching “hundreds of thieves” every week. They are likewise experimenting with the smart gate technology.

A spokesperson for Coles mentioned this month, “Coles employs various security protocols to mitigate theft in our stores, such as CCTV, electronic article surveillance (EAS), and in select locations, the new smart gate technology that activates once customers pay for their items. We’ve noticed a rise in theft, a challenge faced by retailers locally and globally, which we are continually working to address.”

From 2021 to 2022, retail theft in NSW increased by 23.7%, marking the quickest year-on-year escalation since record-keeping started in 1995.

Furthermore, in January, Queensland recorded its highest monthly shoplifting rate based on public police statistics. However, it wasn’t specified which retailers reported these thefts.

Informative signage will be placed at the entrance of Woolworths outlets and at the start of the self-checkout section to inform customers about the ongoing trial in locations such as Fairfield, Moorabbin, Millers Junction, Woodgrove (Vic), Wentworthville, and Randwick Metro.

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