Shoplifting in Mobile Checkout Settings: Cybercrime in Retail Stores

Aloysius, J.A., Arora, A., and Venkatesh, V. “Shoplifting in Mobile Checkout Settings: Cybercrime in Retail Stores,” IT & People (32:5), 2019, 1234-1261.

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Purpose – Retailers are implementing technology-enabled mobile checkout processes in their stores to improve service quality, decrease labor costs and gain operational efficiency. These new checkout processes have increased customer convenience primarily by providing them autonomy in sales transactions in that store employee interventions play a reduced role. However, this autonomy has the unintended consequence of altering the checks and balances inherent in a traditional employee-assisted checkout process. Retailers, already grappling with shoplifting, with an estimated annual cost of billions of dollars, fear that the problem may be exacerbated by mobile checkout and concomitant customer autonomy. The purpose of this paper is to understand the effect of mobile checkout processes in retail stores on cybercrime in the form of shoplifting enabled by a technology transformed the retail environment. Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted an online survey of a US sample recruited from a crowdsourced platform. The authors test a research model that aims to understand the factors that influence the intention to shoplift in three different mobile checkout settings − namely, smartphone checkout settings, store-provided mobile device checkout settings, and employee-assisted mobile checkout settings − and compare it with a traditional fixed location checkout setting. Findings – The authors found that, in a smartphone checkout setting, intention to shoplift was driven by experiential beliefs and peer influence, and experiential beliefs and peer influence had a stronger effect for prospective shoplifters when compared to experienced shoplifters; in a store-provided mobile devices checkout setting, experiential beliefs had a negative effect on shoplifters’ intention to shoplift and the effect was weaker for prospective shoplifters when compared to experienced shoplifters. The results also indicated that in an employee-assisted mobile checkout setting, intention to shoplift was driven by experiential beliefs and peer influence, and experiential beliefs had a stronger effect for prospective shoplifters when compared to experienced shoplifters. Originality/value – This study is the among the first, if not first, to examine shoplifters’ intention to shoplift in mobile checkout settings. We provide insights into how those who may not have considered shoplifting in less favorable criminogenic settings may change their behavior due to the autonomy provided by mobile checkout settings and also provide an understanding of the shoplifting intention for both prospective and experienced shoplifters in different mobile checkout settings.
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