Tuesday 7 May 2013

Big Brother checking you out, faster?

Supermarket giant Kroger Co. (KR) is winning the war against lengthy checkout lines with a powerful weapon: infrared cameras long used by the military and law-enforcement to track people.

These cameras, which detect body heat, sit at the entrances and above cash registers at most of Kroger's roughly 2,400 stores. Paired with in-house software that determines the number of lanes that need to be open, the technology has reduced the customer's average wait time to 26 seconds. That compares with an average of four minutes before Kroger began installing the cameras in 2010.

Kroger executives say they are continuously improving the QueVision software to better predict shopping behaviour and fine-tune the staffing of the checkout lanes. And they are testing other ways to get shoppers out more quickly, including a tunnel-like device resembling an MRI machine that scans items as they go through, then automatically bags them.

The real breakthrough will be on subsequent shopping trips when willing shoppers can be persuaded to avail of a longer in-aisle experience, knowing that checkout times are 90% faster…  

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