Checkouts are tougher than rocket science
Spending some excessive time on a checkout line recently got me thinking back to something my mother used to say. "They figured out how to put a man on the moon. Why can’t they make the checkout line move faster?"
Making checkouts faster has been the goal of retailing pretty much going back to the first time a line formed to buy goods. Retailers have tried all kinds of approaches, including opening registers based on the number of people in a line, adding self-checkouts, employing mobile checkouts, making use of express checkouts, queuing people in a single line and moving them to the next open register, improving scanning technology and accepting mobile payments to achieve the goal, yet the complaints persist.
Morrisons, one of the biggest supermarket chains in England, announced yesterday it was no longer going to use its Intelligent Queue Management (IQM) system in stores. The company made the decision after receiving complaints by customers and staff about the effectiveness of the system, which used infrared sensors to determine the number of customers shopping in a store.
The system was first rolled out in 2008, according to The Grocer, following a test that showed the time spent on line dropped five percent.
Morrisons plans to replace the technology with its own people after determining its "checkout teams would make better and more balanced decisions compared to the IQM computer system."
On a separate but related note, Morrisons also announced it would no longer evaluate checkout workers based on the number of items they scan per minute but on their level of personal service.
"We intend to be an organization that listens very hard to its customers and staff and, wherever possible, responds quickly," said David Potts, CEO of Morrisons, in a statement. "Our colleagues in our stores are best placed to use their experience and personal judgment in deciding how best to serve their customers, keeping queues low at the checkouts and improving the customer’s shopping trip."
- Dear Mona, Which Is The Fastest Checkout Lane At The Grocery Store – FiveThirtyEight
- Find The Best Checkout Line – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Morrisons to ditch unpopular intelligent Queue Management System – The Grocer
- Morrisons make changes at the checkout – Morrisons
Do you think retailers have largely failed to address complaints of long checkout waits? What do you see as the most promising use of people and technology to reduce wait times at the checkout?