23 October, 2017
Waiting time in a line before being attended can be crucial for the client when choosing one retailer or another. This aspect is accentuated where we shop more often, on working days, when we’ve less time and our impatience grows. It’s the case of supermarkets. For this reason, there are already many retailers that are implementing solutions like ours, working with analytics of data obtained from technology like people counters and routers for WiFi Tracking.
Queuing theory is the mathematical study of waiting lines. Thanks to this, we know how many clients are waiting in a line for a specific moment, how many are being attended, at what time the system becomes congested, etc. Then, there are three details needed: number of arrivals, services per unit of time and number of checkout points. Going back to the supermarket example, the number of arrivals and services can be known with automatic people counters installed before and after being attended, while the active checkout points are the amount of cashiers working in parallel.
The objective of a retailer is to accomplish that waiting time in line is smaller than the time a client takes to leave it due to impatience. Retailers’ options are multiple. A change in the waiting lines system can suppose a reduction on average waiting time before being attended, obtaining a higher satisfaction of clients without increasing the number of employees. For instance, an experiment based on queuing theory has demonstrated that having only one line for multiple checkout points is much better than one line for each checkout point.
Once the queuing system has been determined, it’s important to know how many checkout points need to be opened at a specific time in order to avoid long waiting lines. For this reason, usually the number of active checkout points is increased once waiting lines are already formed. Then, studying the indicators provided by a solution like our Waiting Lines Control allows to manage queuing in a dynamic manner, varying the checkout points before lines are formed.
Now let’s check out some success stories:
More and more, retailers are betting on technologies for the Point of Sale. For instance, Kroger Co. supermarkets installed thermal cameras in almost all of their 2.400 centres. These, together with a software that studies the information gathered by the cameras, have allowed to reduce the waiting time in queues from 4 minutes to 26 seconds. Surveys performed before and after the implementation of this technology show shoppers’ experience has significantly improved.
McDonalds uses a fast order system that allows to choose what we’ll consume through a device with touch screen, allowing cooks to prepare the meal while the client is paying. Another case is Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which allows to scan products the client want to buy to accelerate the paying process with their system “Scan & Go”.
How shoppers buy has changed and continues to change. Smartphones have become an omnipresent partner in our lifes, moving technologies closer to the consumer at all times. Just as consumers are happy they can make online purchases with only 1 click and recieve their order in a few days, shoppers’ experience increases when they don’t have to wait in line to pay.
Implementing a people counting system with automatic people counters that determine the amount of checkout points that have to be activated has a minimal and unic cost, while clients’ satisfaction and loyalty increases permanently. Therefore, installing people counters not only speeds up and reduces queues, but also increases sales.
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