Morrisons has responded to the changing demands of retail customers by introducing a range of technologies and activities to not only meet but exceed these changing expectations. In 2007, it identified the checkout experience as one of the most important elements in achieving sustained customer loyalty. It set out to find a technology that would deliver their service promise and allow store staff to calculate the exact number of tills which will be needed to speed shoppers through the tills – making sure the right number of checkout operators are in place to help customers as they finish their shop.
Morrisons turned to technology specialist Irisys InfraRed Integrated Systems who had proven experience in delivering queue management solutions to the retail industry that deliver tangible results and a proven return on investment. The solution, which is based on infrared people counting sensors and specialist forecasting software, was initially trialled in five stores around the country.
Following a successful review, Morrisons announced in October 2008 that it had signed an agreement to roll-out the Irisys queue management solution in 300 stores in the UK. Sylvia Jones, head of central retail operations, explains why the retailer selected the solution: “The investment in the latest technology is part of our strategy to continue to not only be a leader in terms of value for money, but also in the delivery of exceptional service and real benefits to our customers. The five store trial quickly demonstrated that Irisys had delivered a system that matched our needs perfectly and feedback from the in-store management was extremely positive.
By allowing us to have the right people in the right place at the right time, the system not only allowed us to deliver a streamlined customer experience, but also deliver tangible business benefits.”
Utilising unobtrusive ceiling mounted infrared detectors over checkout lanes, together with people counting detectors to count the number of people entering the store; the Irisys system provides real time
information on numbers and queuing behaviours of customers. Compared to other options, such as video or beam based people counting, the unique infrared technology detects customers by
their body heat, thus protecting their privacy, and providing more accurate data.
Information, such as average queue length, average wait time, and overall store checkout performance, is then communicated to in-store management and displayed in real-time using the Irisys system dashboard. The predictor software calculates and displays how many checkouts will be needed in 15 and 30 minutes time to meet customer demand.
Prior to the Irisys solution, checkout managers would manually estimate how many tills would be required which could sometimes result in imprecise staffing at any given time. By being able to access information on the move with PDA devices, checkout managers are now able to make more accurate decisions in real-time that deliver to pre-determined in-store metrics. This has shown to deliver a decrease in customer wait time, allowing Morrisons customers to benefit from an improved checkout experience.
Denise Inseon, checkout supervisor at Morrisons’ Kirkstall store, talks about how she has benefited from the Irisys solution: “The queue management technology has become an indispensable tool in the customer service at our checkouts. Preconfigured to our needs, the PDA notifies me when additional tills will be required and allows me to prepare for service peaks much more effectively. Knowing customer demand in 15 or 30 minutes allows our staff to deliver excellent customer service in other areas of the store with no impact on the customer experience at checkout. Every way we use this tool allows us to deliver an improved shopping experience to our customers, but also delivers valid benefits to our workforce.”
Following a weeks trading, the in-store manager and checkout manager will print out the weekly reports from the Irisys system and look at service levels and labour curves. By providing visual representations of peaks and troughs in trade compared to checkout activity and service, each Morrisons’ store is able to continually improve the service levels and labour efficiencies they achieve week by week.
Sylvia Jones concludes: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Irisys team and they have exceeded our expectations. We have invested in a solution that will not only help us deliver a better shopping experience to our customers, but function more efficiently as an organisation. We are achieving significant cost savings and fully expect the system to pay for itself within our projected timescales.”
Source: Retail Systems