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4/2/2014
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Kroger Solves Top Customer Issue: Long Lines

The supermarket chain, No. 3 in the InformationWeek Elite 100 ranking, uses QueVision system to ensure customers never have more than one person ahead of them.

put the data up on a screen -- where everyone, including customers, could see wait times -- turned out to be key to the project's success.

The next act.
One unexpected bonus was that the shorter lines also improved another customer-oriented metric: the friendliness of associates.

Shoppers are happier when they have shorter lines, Bonner notes. "When the associates have happy shoppers, they are happier, too," he says. "The math did not predict happier associates." That cashier-friendliness metric, measured in customer surveys, has improved company-wide, rising 24% since 2011, Kroger says.

The reporting software has become key to continuing improvement, Meiser says. Everyone from store employees to executives can see daily metrics on how stores are doing on customer satisfaction. "That is the performance scorecard that everyone agrees is the absolute mission of the company," he says. "Everybody knows we will have a daily conversation to make it better."

Did the project change the way Kroger staffs its stores? While some retailers have used the Irisys appliances to cut labor hours, that wasn't part of Kroger's plan, Bonner says, so the company kept labor hours about the same. Store managers did gain more flexibility to schedule employee breaks and move employees to the floor to do other tasks, he says.

Kroger uses the QueVision data in more detailed simulations. It has correlated enough data to keep people moving in the front of stores, including checkout lines, even in stores with unusual layouts. The QueVision data also helps Kroger evaluate new shopping systems, such as ones that let customers scan their own products while shopping.

For its next act, the R&D team will roll out a project to improve food safety -- after a significantly shorter six-month development cycle, Bonner says. "We're going to monitor every case, every temperature in the Kroger company, real time," he says. "We believe in the Internet of things. We're not done."

What do Uber, Bank of America, and Walgreens have to do with your mobile app strategy? Find out in the new Maximizing Mobility issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest.

Laurianne McLaughlin currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Editor-in-Chief, overseeing daily online editorial operations. Prior to joining InformationWeek in May, 2011, she was managing editor at CIO.com. Her writing and editing work has won multiple ASBPE (American ... View Full Bio

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CRESBIcrates
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CRESBIcrates,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2014 | 8:34:45 PM
Re: Postive results for everyone
Another thing that would help speed up checkouts is if everyone used collapsible CRESBI crates.  Shoppers can put their items in the crates UPC codes up as they shop and have the Kroger checker scan it all right in the crates with their handheld scanner. Average scans per minute have been upwards of $100/minute.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2014 | 4:16:36 PM
Re: Postive results for everyone
Visibility of the data matters here -- displaying it puts pressure on employees to take action. This isn't just an alert that goes to the store manager's smartphone. Management guru Jim Collins calls this "information that can't be ignored"
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2014 | 12:30:48 PM
Postive results for everyone
Supermarkets have long been the king of consumer data and trends. Shopper loyalty programs are key to their success. It's nice to see someone taking that data and using it with the goal of helping the consumer have a better experience, rather than just trying to sell more.
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