JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cameras that record images in digital format -- rather than on videotape -- will be used to verify that scanned items match their physical descriptions in a new front-end security system to be tested next month by Winn-Dixie Stores here.
Visual images of each product traveling down the checkstand takeaway belt will be captured, digitized and compared against a data base containing detailed characteristics, such as size, shape and color, of all Universal Product Code items.
The exception-based system is designed to ensure full scanning compliance, enhance price accuracy and reduce cashier "sweethearting" by triggering alerts when the visual image of an item and the scanned or key-entered UPC do not match the description on file.
A company spokesman confirmed the pilot will be launched in one store "shortly," but declined to provide further details. A source familiar with the project said the test will begin next month.
"We look at all new equipment and technology to determine whether it will help us improve our operations anywhere, everywhere," Mickey Clerc, vice president of public relations, told SN.
A new in-store controller, point-of-sale software and ceiling-mounted digital cameras above each checklane are now being installed, he confirmed.
Retailers have long used closed-circuit TV cameras in tandem with point-of-sale exception-monitoring systems to document front-end activity
and hone in on suspicious cashier behavior. However, such setups can require time-consuming viewing of videotape or full integration with the POS and software to automate the video search process.
By contrast, the system to be tested by Winn-Dixie records only exceptions.
The technology, from A.W. Computer Systems, Mount Laurel, N.J., also triggers alerts if an item at the bottom of a cart has gone unnoticed by the cashier, or if an item moving down the belt has not been scanned or key-entered.
The system reportedly is equipped with "learning" capability that enables it to build a description file for a product whose UPC was not entered in the data base, and therefore could not be verified. Over time, the system collects multiple "snapshots" of the item, analyzes them and when sufficient consistency is established, creates a description file for that UPC.