Infrared queue management systems improve efficiency

Irisys is a global leader in thermal imaging, people counting technologies and real time queue management solutions. Irisys infrared arrays are used by many of the world’s leading retailers, shopping centre operators, banks, transport hubs and leisure facilities to improve customer service, operational efficiency and profitability.
Discrete ceiling mounted infra-red detectors monitor people by their body heat. The systems count the number of people into the store, and monitor queues at the checkouts.

The information is generated through Irisys discrete ceiling mounted counters which due to their thermal imaging deliver anonymous data. The systems allow for ideal cashier staffing profiles to be generated, ensuring the correct numbers of cashiers are available in the store at the right time to process the forecasted sales, and importantly to deliver the service level the retailer and their customers’ desire.
To manage fluctuations in demand, the system also predicts in real time the optimum number of tills needed in five, ten, 15 and 30 minutes into the future, this ensures cashiers are on the tills to service the customers when they are needed, and when they are not needed for periods of time, they are available to support other activities around the store.
Customer service and shopping experiences are vitally important for all retailers: being able to manage expectations and demand allows the supermarket to satisfy their customers and maintain their high standards of quality and service.

Queuing to pay at the checkouts is one of the most important parts of the retail operation. It is responsible for a large percentage of store costs, and is the last stage of the customer’s service experience. Many retailers recognise that delivering first class service to their customers is fundamental to building loyalty, market share and sales growth. Ensuring this service is delivered in a cost effective manner is vital in order to minimise store costs and maximise profits.

The Irisys Queue Management system helps the retail deliver a first class service which is fundamental to their business and allows for this to also be delivered in the most cost effective manner.

Grocery retailers/supermarkets are leading the way in the implementation of real time queue management systems and have seen huge successes over the years using the Irisys technology: cost effectively delivering great service at the checkouts. The business objectives for this sector apply across a variety of other market sectors including fashion and apparel retail, general merchandise and DIY retail and quick service restaurants.

The Irisys people counting technology which is the background to the Queue Management system is being developed constantly and is also being applied in to other markets. These include smart building management, and the health & hygiene environments to monitor hand washing compliance. Within smart buildings the system allows for the analysis of how a building is utilised and delivers data to allow for operational efficiency.
The Irisys Queue Management system is active in over 4,000 supermarkets worldwide with particular focus in the UK and USA where a number of leading grocery retailers have seen huge success and return on investment since installing the technology.

Irisys is now concentrating on integrating the system into retailers throughout Europe and Asia.
Which supermarkets/retailers are already using this technology and how has it increased their customer service?
Over 4,000 supermarkets worldwide are using the Irisys Queue Management system, some of the main customers who have rolled out the system across their estates include:
-Tesco (UK, installed in over 1,000 stores)
- Morrisons (UK, installed in over 450 stores)
- Kroger (US, installed in over 2,300 stores)
- Foodland (US, installed in all 32 stores)

The most recent retailer to deploy the Irisys Queue Management system is Kroger – a 2,300 store supermarket chain in the US.
Rodney McMullen (President & COO of Kroger) recently stated whilst he was citing Kroger’s focus on value and its loyalty program that one of their successes in reducing checkout times is due to the Irisys’s technology:

“Our market share gains are a result of our investments in all four keys of our Customer First strategy. People often talk about investments we make in price, but there are many ways we have invested in our nonprice keys; people, products and shopping experience, which strengthen our connection with customers in our stores.

For example, over the last several years, we've set out to improve the shopping experience by reducing customer wait time at checkout. Customers have told us they do not like waiting in long lines. Based on that feedback, we developed a solution that has reduced the average amount of time a customer waits in line to check out to about 30 seconds today compared to around four minutes in the past.

Our customers tell us they noticed the difference, and we are delivering a shopping experience that makes them want to return.”

The impact of this:
• Fiscal year 2012 sales were up 7.1%.
• Like for like sales up by 3.7%.
• Share price over last six months increased by 30%

The system has proved that it can deliver significant business benefits and a strong return on investment as shown by the following testimonials:

“We monitor and manage the service our customers get more precisely – by customer, by store, by minutes. Thanks to this, a quarter of a million more customers every week don’t have to queue.” Sir Terry Leahy, Chief Executive, Tesco.
“We are seeing significant savings in checkout labour, a reduction in relief hours used, and an improvement in productivity.” Adam Heywood, Head of Central Retail, Morrisons.

“We have reduced the average wait time from several minutes to less than one minute, and through our focus on the customer, we will continue to stand out among food retailers and drive loyalty, cash flow and earnings growth in 2012 and beyond ” David Dillon, Chief Executive Officer, Kroger

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