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Success at the front end is one of the most critical aspects of retail. At checkout, customers are left with a final impression of their shopping experience, which could be the difference between creating a return customer or losing market share to a competitor.
Today, retailers are rolling the dice on which new technology will give them a competitive edge at checkout. Major chains like JC Penney and Finish Line have introduced new mobile checkouts and might say goodbye to traditional registers all together. Other apparel chains and grocery retailers are experimenting with smartphone checkouts – essentially turning shoppers into their own cashiers.
One high-tech system, however, streamlines checkout by making stores smarter while simultaneously mapping potential areas for improvement. Based on infrared technology, the thermal-powered system gathers information with non-intrusive sensors installed over checkout lanes. Real-time information enables retailers to open or close checkouts depending on the number of customers waiting in line.
And the checkout data is strengthened by additional sensors at the entrance/exit doors. These people counters also use infrared technology, detecting customers as they enter or exit the store without the use of intrusive video-imaging devices.
Together, the people counters and checkout management sensors provide a comprehensive view of shopper traffic. When the data are combined, the system automatically converts them into footfall analytics, which shine a spotlight on areas in need of immediate and/or long-term improvements.
In the short term, the comprehensive information creates a predictive checkout management system through which retailers immediately know how many staffed registers will be needed in 15- and 30-minute intervals. As more shoppers enter the store, the number fluctuates accordingly – ensuring the front end is staffed sufficiently and proactively eliminating congestion and long lines.
In the long term, the smarter checkout learns the patterns of a particular store’s traffic. Using these patterns and trends, retailers can more effectively schedule staff assignments and prevent wasting resources during slow times. Conversely, the analytics help ensure a store is not understaffed during peak shopping times.
More effective staffing and shorter checkout lines create a customer-friendly shopping environment, which can lead to enhanced customer service and, in turn, boost loyalty.
Retailers looking to revamp their checkout process will benefit from seeing the big picture. Implement a high-tech checkout management system that also guides improvements throughout the store.