Own Woolworths (ASX:WOW) shares? Here’s how the retail giant is using AI to combat self-serve cheats

Woolworths is introducing more technology for self-serve.

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a woman ponders products on a supermarket shelf while holding a tin in one hand and holding her chin with the other.

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Investors of Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) shares may be interested to learn about the latest technology that the supermarket business is implementing at its checkouts to increase the accuracy of the process.

New AI technology

Woolworths is working with Tiliter Retail to install new smart scales. This new technology, according to reporting by News.com.au, will automatically weigh and identify products without barcodes. At the moment, there are 36 stores that already have these devices installed.

According to the report, the “hypersensitive” cameras can tell the difference between different types of the same vegetables (for example capsicums), but it will also be able to tell the difference between organic and non-organic.

How does this process actually work?

The scales can recognise an item in less than 200 milliseconds, then it shows on the screen what it thinks is the item. Customers can change the item on the screen manually, but it can alert staff if the AI is sure about what it thinks the product is.

It was reported that by News.com.au that the scales can also identify non-produce items like wallets, phones, photos, and barcoded items.

All of this is part of the company’s new ‘scan and go’ program. Shoppers can scan items with barcodes as they put them into their trolley/basket as they shop. The new scales will help speed up the process for produce items at the checkout. Shoppers can pay on their phone once all items have been scanned. Woolworths stores that support the Scan&Go system have a “special exit” for customer’s using the program which requires them to scan a QR code at the exit.

Two of the main benefits of the ‘scan and go’ system, according to Woolworths, is that it is fast and allows customers to track their spending as they shop, which is useful for budgeting.

How are Woolworths shares performing?

Over the last six months, the Woolworths share price has risen by 13%. The last year shows a gain of 21%.

Woolworths has been experiencing a higher level of demand for its food and drink as Aussies (from cities like Sydney and Melbourne) are restricted in how and where they can purchase food. That predominately led to people shopping at local supermarkets like Woolworths.

FY21 saw Australian supermarket sales rise 5.4% to $44.4 billion. Across the whole Woolworths business, (which includes New Zealand and Big W), e-commerce sales rose by 63.3% to $4.74 billion.

In a trading update for the first weight weeks of FY22, Woolworths said that Australian food total sales were up 4.5%, which was being compared against growth of 11.9% in the prior corresponding period.

In the medium-term, each year it’s expecting to open 10 to 25 new full range supermarkets and five to 15 new Metro Food stores. Woolworths is also expecting to open three to four New Zealand Countdown stores.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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