Self Checkout

How do retailers get scammed at the self checkout?

Self Checkout

Self Checkout

Colin Peacock
Written by Colin Peacock

Group Strategic Coordinator

About the author

Scams, Glitches and Glitch Driven Scams

Over eighty retailers joined our ninety minute self checkout working group meeting in May, where retailers shared the scams and glitches they have discovered in their business. What emerged were three forms of scams / glitches. The first being the traditional scam, where customers find ways to exploit systems that are working as originally designed, well known examples, often via the Product Look Up menu, include presenting (say) grapes, champagne, Jacks Daniels, etc and then pressing the brown onions on the PLU menu. Then there were the second category, these could be called system glitches, where inadvertent losses generated at SCO due to system errors/faults, one example we heard occurred when the customer presented their loyalty card immediately after they had used the quantity button to scan (say) six bottles of champagne, once the loyalty card was input, the quantity of champagne scanned reduced to one. The final category identified were the Glitch-driven Scams, where customers had found system glitches and purposefully set out exploit them to their advantage. One of the example here was the potted plant, which when discounted was not allocated a security weight, when bad actors became aware of this glitch, they were able to exploit using the yellow sticker discount bar code.

To address the traditional scams likely requires retailers to continue to invest behind proactive/ongoing interventions such as product recognition and purchase pattern recognition/analysis, while the later two can be more effectively resolved by system changes once identified.

Click the video to see a quick recap with Professor Beck on the major findings. If you are a retailer, CPG or academic and would like to get a copy of the recording, please send an email to

We have planned an annual update on this topic, click here to register, for the meeting in May 2024

Jun 10, 2023


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