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As Simple as 3, 1, 2….

“What do those numbers mean?” I was in the checkout lane of the local grocery store looking at a large monitor with the numbers 3, 2 and 1 on the screen.

The checkout person said, “The first number is the actual number of checkout lanes currently open.  The middle number is the number of lanes the system predicts should be open now and the last number is the number that the system predicts should be open in 30 minutes.”

“The system?” I said.

She shared with me that sensors are positioned over the entrance and exit doors and in the ceiling to determine the number of people in the store.  The more people buying groceries, the more heat is generated and detected by the sensors.  All the information is sent to the system and it then predicts how many checkout lanes should be open now and in 30 minutes.

I did a little research to find out that the system has been installed to address the number one complaint by grocery shoppers – the length of time in the checkout lane.  This is the one experience every shopper has and it is the last chance for a retailer to make a good impression on consumers.  The March edition of The Progressive Grocer report says that 75 percent of shoppers said a positive experience at the front area increases their overall opinion of the store and makes them more likely to shop there again.

Kroger grocery stores goal is to have only one person waiting in line while the person ahead of them is being checked out.  Some employees have vented that the system is not calculating the numbers properly and it is incorrectly pulling employees from other parts of the store to man checkout lanes when no more are really needed at that time.  Kroger has acknowledged it is working to dial in the system.

As I finished paying, I asked the attendant how it helped her and she said, “The system is not always correct, but it is helping to keep the checkout lines shorter for customers.”

And that is the point.  While the system has some issues, Kroger leadership has clearly defined for its employees that making a positive last impression for its customers is most important.

So, does every person in your company know what is most important and how they can make a difference?  If not, clearly define it for them and give them an easy way to track and monitor.

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2 Comments on “As Simple as 3, 1, 2….”

  1. checkout March 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This article posted at this web site is truly pleasant.

  2. dick whalen March 27, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    3-2-1 are the last words uttered by Kim J Uhn just before his country was turned into a parking lot ….

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