Will data-driven checkout get shoppers through the line faster?
Grocers have long struggled to reduce the time customers spend waiting in line. Now regional grocer Hy-Vee is addressing the perennial problem with a data-driven solution.
A new checkout management system is being piloted at one Hy-Vee location in Nebraska, KETV reported. The system, built by startup IndaFlow, gathers real-time data on how each checkout line is moving with sensors that gauge such metrics as the number of people in line, cart size, the number of items on each checkout conveyor and even cashiers’ movements. Based on this data, the system calculates which line is moving fastest and displays a red, yellow or green light above each checkout to signify its speed.
For shoppers, a green light indicates an open lane or short line while yellow or orange lights signal longer waits. For stores, an abundance of orange lights can point to the need to open more lanes. The system can reportedly help managers plan better for busy times and set goals based on the metrics derived.
The Omaha World Herald said the new system has reduced average wait times at the store to less than three minutes from more than four minutes.
The system seems to take another step beyond Kroger’s QueVision system, which uses infrared sensors to count customers entering the store and at checkout lanes to help anticipate in real time how many registers need to be open. QueVision was launched in 2013.
A popular low-technology option to increase checkout efficiency is the single queue, used by Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Many new technology options do away with the traditional checkout, instead equipping employees with handheld devices for mobile checkout or providing self-checkout scanners for shoppers.
Perhaps the future is being piloted by Amazon Go and its entirely checkout-free experience. According to The Verge, Panasonic is testing a similar system in Japan in which items are scanned as they’re placed in a smart basket and then automatically bagged at checkout.
- New technology shows grocery store shoppers which check-out line moves fastest – KETV
- Designed to save shoppers time, new system lights up Hy-Vee lines – Omaha World Herald
- Will the tech behind Amazon Go redefine convenience at retail? – RetailWire
- Are self-checkouts dooming impulse purchases? – RetailWire
- Are Checkout Impulse Buys a Mobile Casualty? – RetailWire
- Panasonic’s smart shopping basket calculates your bill and bags your items – The Verge
- Panasonic Takes Item Out of Bagging Area: Human – Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does sensor technology hold the potential to significantly reduce checkout wait times? Besides increased speed, what other benefits do you see from high-tech checkout technology?