Thursday 18 July 2019

Walmart tackles thieves and scanning errors with the aid of Cork company's software

Technology firm Everseen’s offices in Cork
Technology firm Everseen’s offices in Cork

Gabrielle Monaghan

Everseen, a Cork-based artificial technology firm, has been supplying Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, with computer vision technology that spots thieves and scanning errors at manned checkouts and self-service checkouts across its stores.

Alan O'Herlihy, the founder and chief executive of Everseen, has previously said its software is used by five of the world's 10 largest grocery retailers, but non-disclosure agreements had prevented the company from identifying its clients.

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However, Walmart has revealed that the Cork firm is one of "several companies" that has been supplying 1,000 Walmart stores for the last two years with loss-prevention software that monitors checkouts to identify scanning errors and theft.

The American supermarket giant also owns the Asda grocery chain in Britain and Northern Ireland, though its attempt to merge Asda with rival Sainsbury's in a £12bn (€13.4bn) deal was blocked earlier this year by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

The son of a Cork shopkeeper, O'Herlihy set up Everseen in 2008 to solve one of the retail industry's biggest quandaries: point-of-sale shrinkage, the retail industry's term for lost revenue caused by shoplifting, scanning errors by staff and customers, as well as other related issues.

Until recently, non-scans at a retail checkout were typically detected by staff monitoring CCTV footage of a terminal or by manually sifting through video recordings. However, as Everseen's research discovered, the human eye can only process one image at a time, or just 5pc of all non-scans at a checkout. Everseen's 'digital eye', a combination of video analytics and AI, has been trained to detect almost all non-scans.

At Walmart stores deploying the software, cameras track and analyse activities at tills and self-service checkouts. If the software finds an item hasn't been scanned, it notifies a shop attendant in mere seconds.

Walmart has said that its shrink rates have declined at its stores since the introduction of what it refers to internally as its Missed Scan Detection programme.

Everseen currently employs 140 people, including at its headquarters in Cork, two new research centres in Romania and Serbia, and at an office it opened in New York City in 2017. O'Herlihy expects Everseen's workforce to grow to 175 by the end of 2019.

"Powering Everseen's growth is the company's investment in people and the creation of a culture that cultivates invention," he said. "Everseen currently has 28 employees listed as inventors on patents across the world.

"Since 2012, we have also inspired 27 individual patent inventors to build our intellectual property portfolio and Everseen is now known as the retail technology invention factory."

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