Retail Checkout Efficiency
One of the largest retailers in CEE wanted to measure the efficiency of manned checkout counters. Although well defined processes for checkout employees and queue prevention are in place, the retailer wanted to measure the real world results against estimated baselines.
Two metrics were chosen for the evaluation.
- Overstaffing. First, the retailer wanted to measure cashier redundancy time – employee time spent at the checkout counter when no customers are present. This metric would identify productivity wasted when employee resources could be better spent elsewhere in the store.
- Understaffing. Secondly, the retailer wanted to prevent the forming of customer queues at the checkout and identify when additional checkout counters should be opened.
Both tasks were aimed at more efficient utilization of in-store employees for improved resource management and better customer experience.
Two stores were chosen for a three month trial of EasyFlow Queue Management platform with a total of 18 manned checkout counters. Both stores represented different consumer demographics and shopping patterns (suburban vs a centrally located one; little difference in size and product stock levels).
EasyFlow was deployed as a cloud SaaS platform without any additional hardware infrastructure.
- EasyFlow analyzed real-time visitor footfall at the store entrances, as well as the situation at the checkout counters (how many counters are opened, how many customers are queuing up). These metrics were derived by using computer vision and video camera footage, without any additional data points from the retailer’s ERP.
- The software measured idle cashier time at the checkout counter. In addition, when detecting a decrease in store visitor traffic (when too many checkout counters are open; overstaffing), EasyFlow platform would send notification to the Head cashier and cashiers on duty that a particular checkout counter should be closed in a couple of minutes.
- When detecting an increase in visitor footfall (with only a few checkout counters open; understaffing), EasyFlow would send a notification that additional checkout counters should be opened, as queues were likely to form in a couple of minutes.
The experiment was conducted during the COVID-19 lockdown, resulting in staffing and customer traffic irregularities. Additionally, the retailer already had well defined processes for in-store resource allocation and queue management in place (aiming from good result to perfect).
- During the trial EasyFlow platform sent 2048 notifications regarding understaffing or overstaffing.
- At both stores EasyFlow helped to reduce cashier idle time by 57.66% when measuring against the baseline. This resulted in approx. 300 man-hours saved at both stores (equalling to more than 2.5 man-hours per day).
- The platform also prevented 237 queue forming incidents, saving an average of 2.25 hours in wait time for customers per store per day.
- During the trial EasyFlow platform also counted the real-world visitor footfall patterns.
Despite the COVID-19 limitations (vs business as usual) and keeping in mind that the experiment was conducted at a highly efficient retail operation, EasyFlow proved that an additional productivity push can be achieved with little technological effort, resulting in better resource allocation and improved customer experience.