The issue of age verification has always posed a major problem for retailers. In recent years, the difficulties seem to have been magnified to a significant degree. Under-18s now look much more mature – and are frequently taller and physically larger than ever before. Then there’s the fact that easily available computer technology has added hugely to the number of fake I.D.’s out there. You can easily appreciate the scale of the problem to retailer selling age-restricted goods.
As part of the response to this, Challenge 25 has been introduced. Where it appears to the person selling alcohol that the customer might be under 25, they are required to ask them to present identification to prove that they are legally entitled to make the purchase.
This initiative has gone some way to addressing the problem. It has made it much easier for retail staff to ‘challenge’ potential Under-18s without being seen as confrontational. If large numbers are being challenged, then it follows that any one individual is not being ‘picked on’.
POS software now takes age verification a stage further
The addition of POS software to the equation makes it even easier for retailers to carry out their ‘due diligence’ before selling alcohol – or tobacco – to minors. Here’s a quick summary of how it works:
- The retailer can identify and flag the products they sell that are subject to age restrictions – anything from tobacco and alcohol to Lotto tickets or paracetamol.
- If appropriate, different age groups can be attributed to different products, subject either to local legislation or social pressure.
- When any of these products are requested, key questions to the retail staff are automatically generated on the POS display e.g. “Does the customer LOOK Over-25?
- If ‘No’, a standard request for identity is issued by the POS software.
- The software will also capture the result of the challenge, e.g. what sort of I.D. (if any) was presented, and if a sale was subsequently made.
An answer to social as well as legal pressure
Anecdotally, it seems that prosecutions against the retailer are still relatively low. Despite these numbers, local authorities are quite active in sending out ‘dummy customers’ to check on retailer compliance in this area. Often a ‘rap on the knuckles’ rather than prosecution is the response to selling alcohol or tobacco to minors.
But that’s only half the equation. There is also a huge level of public and social pressure on retailers. As parents, we don’t want to think that our local supermarket is selling tobacco or alcohol to our children. We would likely take our business elsewhere if we thought that they were not stepping up to the mark in protecting young people from harmful substances.
Use of age verification software is proof positive that they are carrying out their due diligence, and are committed to the principles of protecting underage customers.
If a challenge arises, for example, the retailer would be in a position to say that 10% of customers were challenged, 2% were declined etc.
The age verification software is versatile and pliable, and has the ability to be easily updated in the event of new products coming into the age verification net. For example, a retailer may decide it’s appropriate not to sell some energy drinks to minors, in response to social pressure and legislative changes.
Want to find out more?
Contact us today if you’d like to find out more about how age verification software can help you up your game in staying compliant.