Queues have a great impact on customer experience and loyalty over time, and for Tigros, their proper management is one of the most critical elements of the in-store experience. Placing great emphasis on service quality, Tigros had already introduced an internal policy requiring that if the number of customers in the queue is more than two, a new checkout must be opened to ensure a rapid outflow. In addition, they introduced technological innovations such as a self-checkout system. Yet a need remained to obtain objective, real-time data on the number of people in the queue for both a dynamic checkout management and an ex-post performance analysis.
As a first technology, Tigros explored using video sensors to measure the presence of people in queues. However, video cameras produce data noise as they count all the people in the queue, and they could not identify a household, i.e., distinguish between a couple or a family of three with a single cart/basket. In 2020, Tigros decided to test RetailerIN technology, a retail intelligence platform tracking carts and baskets and mapping the customer’s entire journey in-store.
ThinkIN’s RetailerIN solution is based on Quuppa Real-Time Locating System (RTLS), an indoor location infrastructure including Locators installed on the ceiling, and small devices (TAGs), provided by BlueUp, to be attached to shopping carts and baskets. The Locators locate the carts/baskets within their coverage range with sub-meter accuracy. The data is collected in the cloud and can be used for in-depth analysis of each shopping path in the store.
Amongst other things, RetailerIN monitors queue formation accurately. The tracking begins when the customer is near a checkout lane but counts as queuing only when the cart/basket remains in that area for at least 10 seconds. The system sends notifications via a dedicated application for mobile devices (e.g., tablets) if predefined queue thresholds are exceeded or when they reach a critical level. This allows store managers and employees to quickly manage a possible lengthening of waiting times and inform the status of different check-outs in real time. RetailerIN also provides analytics on queue formation based on the number of people queuing and time spent to enable store managers to plan staff allocation optimally and maximise service quality.
In addition to queue management, using store entry and exit data, the system provides basic analytics on customer behaviour in the store, such as the number of people on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, time spent in the store, and preference regarding shopping cart/basket.
The project was carried out in partnership with Bertoldi Aldo, a company specialising in supermarket technology and equipment. RetailerIN system was first installed in two stores and then expanded to fourteen stores, all located in Lombardy, with a total of 7,500 carts and baskets tracked.
Implementing the RetailerIN system led to two different results. Firstly performance, which Tigros essentially measures by the level of service at the checkout, improved already within the first 12 months of operation. Maximum efficiency was achieved in 18 months. From an organisational point of view, the benefit brought by the RetailerIN system is considerable, as it has enabled further standardisation of checkout procedures.
RetailerIN is a retail services platform: starting with queue monitoring and leveraging the same in-store infrastructure, it is possible to easily introduce new services that enhance the store’s digital transformation. These include analysis of in-store customer behaviour and merchandising strategies and improved product search, in-store navigation, and self-checkout. These are some of the topics being discussed to support Tigros in digitising its physical stores, with increasing integration with online!