The question of how to manage large numbers of customers is as old as retail itself, and in the modern world the problem is on an unprecedented scale. It’s even more important, given that retail now competes with online shopping, with convenient options of delivery or collection of orders. So how do bricks and mortar retailers give their customers the best, most convenient shopping experience possible in-store? Queue management technology.
The basic principle behind queue management systems is to quantify queue demand at any given time and inform your staff in real-time. Sensors placed above each checkout count the number of people waiting, giving you a total number of those being served, those still waiting, how long they have been waiting, and giving you alerts at predetermined points.
This gives you the chance to react to customer demand as quickly as possible, keeping the checkouts running efficiently, reducing the waiting time for your customers and improving their shopping experience. This brings a variety of benefits:
By improving the customer experience and their satisfaction with your store, you can help instill loyalty in your customers.
See exactly how many of your staff are actually required to operate the checkouts at any given time – something very difficult to do in a crowded store. This makes the difference between getting the most out of your staff, being able to redeploy them to other parts of the store during quiet times, and having them sit without customers to serve.
The next level of sophistication is trying to predict the queue volume, and checkout staff required, at a point in the future. By placing sensors at the entrances to the store and using sophisticated predictive algorithms, we can predict the queue requirements up to 15, or 30 minutes ahead of time. Combine this with the benefits brought by the real-time information, and your in-store management will get the clearest information possible about how to efficiently organise staffing, and how to create the best experience possible at the store. Adding predictive queue management opens up new possibilities:
By anticipating your requirements ahead of time, you can make sure your staff is in place to meet customer demand before the store gets too busy. This can keep the waiting times down by acting proactively instead of reactively.
By creating a better shopping environment where customers don’t have to wait in long queues at the end of their visit, they are more likely to visit the store more often, and purchase more items overall. It also means that shoppers who only have a short time to make their purchases, (e.g. workers on a lunch break), are more likely to visit, if they can expect a short wait time at the checkouts.
Sir Terry Leahy, previous Chief Executive of Tesco, said that the Irisys queue management system was a key factor in the Company’s half year pre-tax profits rising ten per cent to over £1 billion.
We have heat seeking cameras that sense the number of customers entering a store and predict the checkouts that need to be open in an hour... we can monitor and manage the service customers get much more precisely — by customer, by store and by the minute.
Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco