William Hogben, CEO
The losses incurred by the retail industry on account of shoplifting and employee theft, particularly co-operative grocery stores, is substantial considering the low profit margins they operate on. “Oftentimes, even before the store gets an inkling about what is happening, well-organized and professional shoplifting gangs have made away with goods worth thousands of dollars in any given week,” says William Hogben, CEO, FutureProof Retail (FPR). NY-based FutureProof Retail has established itself as a provider of easy-to-use, white-labeled check-out apps that secure a store’s merchandise while enhancing the shopping experience for the consumers.
To further the initiative of streamlining in-store security, FPR has created a FutureProof platform that allows shoppers to “shop right into their own bags” and check themselves out. The white-labeled system offered by FPR is highly customizable and unlike any other third party app. It allows the merchant to own both the install and the customer relationships. FPR’s Mobile Checkout app enables customers to interact with the in-store checkout system by scanning a QR code when they finish shopping followed by a clearance to leave or wait if unscanned items are detected in the bag. With FPR’s loss prevention tools, in-store staff can use mobile phone features such as smart bag checks, purchase activity monitoring, and user flagging to identify a suspicious shopper. “Our system is a lot like an immune system. When someone fails a bag check our system learns what to look for and it trains not just that store, but all our stores how to filter out bad guys. When people try to exploit it they end up making it stronger,” explains Hogben.
The ideology behind our system is to
weed out dishonesty in all its forms,
wherever it manifests
The firm’s Merchant Dashboard application enables the store to monitor a customer’s behavior history to make a note of their purchasing habits and identify unusual consumer behavior, thereby increasing the chances of a bag-check to forestall cases of theft by 100 percent.
“Although a lot of loss prevention innovation focuses on RFID, it falls short when it comes to food, since the tags don't scan through glass or liquids,” asserts Hogben. FPR instead uses technologies including machine learning and camera analysis in their system to prevent loss and to significantly bring down shoplifting. Additionally, the shopper’s image is captured by the camera at the entry point, which helps the staff to initiate a personalized conversation—a big deterrent to shoplifting tendencies. In one of the instances, the retail staff at a FPR pilot store in CA was caught engaging in in-store theft. The revelation led the store to unearth a fraud case involving the staff that had cost the store several hundred thousand dollars over a period of 10 years. “It’s not just about curtailing in-store theft, the ideology behind our system is to identify dishonesty in all it's forms. You're always going to have people willing to steal - our system let's merchants easily filter them out,” says Hogben.
With a majority of their budget dedicated to R&D, FPR has been investing heavily in making their system available on a wide array of hardware and platforms. The firm will be announcing new hardware partners that will allow them to bring new stores online with nothing but a software upgrade. Moving ahead, FPR is focused on providing the core technologies that allow merchants and shoppers to interact digitally, online and, more uniquely, in person. “The mobile checkout market is poised to explode,” Hogben remarks, “Sainsbury's, Lidl, and more are running test programs right now but real catalyst is going to be when WalMart gets into the game later this fall. In five years everybody's going to be shopping with their phones.”