We all would like waiting lines gone, and leave the store right after we have everything desired. What’re the practical implications, though?
We’ve seen so many mentions about checkout free stores, that we already realize shops without queues do exist. But technology allowing it – machine learning and advanced AI, is nowadays in its early stages. Combined with very high initial costs and a certain level of risks, the adoption has been the privilege of corporations with required resources.
In 2016 American giant Amazon revealed its first Amazon Go store in Seattle. As time went, additional stores have been opened up among the United States. Small startups also jumped on the train and came up with their less complex checkout free alternatives.
However, as futuristic and exciting checkout free store might look, it’s fair to acknowledge that it’s not going to spread as fast in the mainstream throughout the world. Retailers that are not capable of spending massive amounts on R&D, have to tackle the ‘queue problem’ the other way.
Besides, that futuristic checkout free solutions are quite effective and hassle-free, we shouldn’t forget a lot of customers still desire social interaction while shopping. While this model is feasible for groceries, it may not be the ideal for the others. Service providers (telco, banks) or stores which focus on specific goods are cases, where shop assistants (and cashiers) will always have their place.
Also, the current phase of the ‘checkout free’ technology applies just to groceries and products that are in general physically smaller.
So, how are the other retailers supposed to deal with the queues, that cost them lost sales?
Retail analytics through active queue monitoring is already helping a lot of them. Our own ‘Queue’ module has helped many European retailers minimize the overall length of queues and predicted when and where they occur. Acquired weekly forecasts of queue length then help us better set up shifts. That results in better allocation of cashiers during the peak hours, which ensures a smoother flow of customers in the checkout area.
Both innovations – retail analytics and checkout free tech powered by machine learning are good at what they do. However, while the futuristic variant is more suitable for grocery stores, retail analytics has its place in every segment of brick-and-mortar.
To answer our initial question. Is it possible to entirely get rid of queues? Well, it depends. Length of waiting differs based on the type of store. While technology may help us eliminate lines in some, it might have a lower (but still significant) impact on the others. The good news is that we’ve made notable progress, and there’s even more to come.