Top Ranked North American Supermarket

Queue Management Case Study

Top ranked North American supermarket implements in-store best practice

Grocery retail is a tough business, so it is important to give your customers reasons to return.

Understanding customer expectations and evaluating real-time compliance against predetermined service levels which reflect these, can make all the difference to continuing success. Combine this with benchmarking against industry best practice – and you will see the results.

This leading supermarket chain did just that, with the result that wait times went down, lines went down and customer satisfaction went up – all at no additional labour cost!

Project Scope

Industry sector: retail, grocery

Geography: USA

Service solution: intelligent queue management

Project size: mid-sized scale, unionised grocer

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Business Issue

 

A sluggish economy and increased regional competition drove our client to seek new strategies that would:

  • Differentiate its brand within the marketplace
  • Help it establish a competitive edge; and
  • Improve delivery of key performance indicators - specifically increasing sales and improving customer satisfaction - by reducing customer wait times at the checkout.

Solution

 

Irisys’ Intelligent Queue Management solution was selected to help ensure associate hours were optimized and strategically allocated to provide customers a quick, efficient checkout, without additional labor investment.

Early trial results from a four-store pilot established an operational goal of 1+1 service delivery 85% of the time, would make a significant customer difference and align with industry best practice; 1+1 means 1 person is in transaction and no more than 1 person is waiting to be served.

Team members during the preliminary pilot included the Store Directors, District Managers, Labor Management, Information Systems and Training personnel, along with sponsorship from the Operations Director and Vice President.

Weekly calls were held to review the stores’ progress. By the end of the pilot period, the stores:

  • Reduced wait time by 21%
  • Improved customer service by 44% (% of customers that received a 1+1 service)
  • Increased customer satisfaction with “speed of checkout”
  • Reduced reliance on cashier relief from perimeter departments.

All of these improvements were made without increasing labor dollars. Based on these results, the decision was made to deploy the solution across most of the store estate as a first phase. As part of full implementation, a web-based enterprise tool - in addition to daily reporting - rolled up store metrics to regions, divisions and corporate to include:

  • Average checkout line length
  • Average customer wait time
  • Hours over-staffed and under-staffed
  • Predicted vs. actual hours by time of day
  • Compliance to the service objective by time of day

Business Benefits and Implementation of Best Practices

 

Based upon opportunities identified during the course of the project, the following changes and best practices were implemented:

  • Internal programs were created to increase cashier throughput - these programs encouraged cashiers to achieve their scan rate objective and participate in the effort to improve customer satisfaction
  • Cashier labor schedules were adjusted to better align with customer traffic; after identifying periods of over and understaffing, existing cashier hours were reallocated to align with true customer demand
  • The cashier/bagger ratio was changed to increase throughput and reduce labor dollars - increasing the number of baggers per cashier allowed the cashier to focus on performing their primary function of scanning items and tendering orders
  • A dedicated Front End Manager, whose primary role was to manage the front end and not fill in on the register, was utilized
  • Front End Managers were required to manage from the customer side of the registers, allowing them to assist cashiers and balance checkout lines
  • Specific acceleration (add cashiers) and deceleration (use cashiers for other tasks) plans were implemented so cashiers would be utilized on the tills when needed and perform other value-added tasks when not required
  • Aligned labor standards to the service objective to ensure the front end labor forecast met the Company’s new 1+1 85% service objective.