As reported by RetailWire’s Bernice Hurst, the top retail innovation in InformationWeek’s Elite 100 recently went to Kroger Co.’s QueVision system, which is designed to ensure that customers never have more than one person in line ahead of them.
Now in more than 2,400 stores, QueVision has reduced checkout times on average from four minutes to less than 30 seconds. (The technology was first tested in Toledo-area Kroger stores in 2009.) “Every day, we are returning precious minutes to our time-strapped customers by shortening the time they wait to check out,” said Marnette Perry, Kroger’s SVP of strategic initiatives and operations, in a statement.
According to a profile in InformationWeek, QueVision uses infrared sensors to count customers entering the store and at checkout lanes. Combining those counts with factors such as store layout, staffing levels for cashiers and baggers, and historical transaction logs, store managers use a simulator to access the number of registers that need to be open in real time. Estimates are also made on how many should be open in 15 and 30 minutes.
A large part of the system’s success is being attributed to a suggestion by a store manager to put wait-time data on screens for both employees and customers to see. The information was initially intended to only be seen by employees and managers via handhelds. (Read an overview of the process here.)
Customer satisfaction has improved with shorter lines and Kroger’s companywide cashier-friendliness metric, measured in customer surveys, has improved 24 percent since 2011, according to InformationWeek, though a quick scan of Kroger employee forums – do a Google search for “Kroger QueVision” – shows that not all employees are on-board with the technology.