Good Thinking

Intelligent Queue Management

Intelligent Queue Management
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December 4, 2008 I hate queues. It’s why I never went to Disneyland a second time, why I have developed an industrial-sized, alcohol-proof bladder and why I’d rather bank and shop online than do it in a dysfunctional real world environment. Time is a commodity I can’t get more of, my time is valuable, and, for-crying-out-loud, I WANT IT NOW! So I’m tipping that Irisys’ (InfraRed Integrated Systems) Intelligent Queue Management (IQM) system will be hot property in a commercial world attempting to reduce and better allocate human resources without further degrading the customer experience. IQM uses infrared sensors that measure and track numbers and behaviours of customers, and predictive algorithms to work out how many checkouts will be required in 15 and 30 minutes time to meet customer demand. It even sends alerts to managers so they can proactively manage staffing levels in real-time to ensure optimal levels of customer service. If you tell everyone you know about IQM, it will ultimately lead to shorter queues.

Specifically designed for the retail, banking, and leisure industries, Irisys’ Intelligent Queue Management combines the latest in infrared and retail technology. This includes predictive algorithms and checkout lane scheduling, to enable store managers to closely monitor customer numbers and in-store queuing behaviours.

The queue management system is powered by Irisys’ Intelligence Optimised infrared sensor technology, which involves unobtrusive infrared sensors placed at entrances and above checkout lanes that accurately detect the number and behavior of shoppers in-store. Built-in predictive algorithms then provide store managers with customer service alerts giving advance notice so they can best allocate human resources.

The Irisys system dashboard is available via computer as well as mobile PDA device, providing store management with access to a range of information such as dynamic checkout queue length, waiting time data and store floor checkout performance. In the event that performance falls below a minimum service level, management teams are automatically alerted, allowing time to proactively manage the situation and avoid unnecessary checkout frustrations, queuing and abandoned shops.

Irisys’ Intelligent Queue Management also incorporates a checkout lane scheduler tool, which employs historical sales data and customer service levels to forecast busy and slow periods up to 4-6 weeks in advance, enabling store management to deploy and utilize cashier staff more effectively.

“Retailers and service operations are under increasing pressure to streamline operations without compromising the checkout experience,” says David Clayson, Managing Director of Irisys. “With customers making fewer in-store visits, retailers can’t afford to offer anything less than the highest levels of customer service. The Irisys system provides management teams with the advanced information needed to open and close checkouts when required by customer demand. By more effectively utilizing cashier staff, retailers are also able to operate more efficiently, thus offering more competitive prices and ultimately passing savings on to their customers.”

A recent survey commissioned by Irisys, which polled leading retailers around the world (senior executives from retailers across 18 countries and 50 chains), found that effective staff utilization and managing queue waiting times were among the top barriers to achieving a high-level of customer service. The survey also found that over 60% of retailers don’t currently have a queue management solution in place, and of those that do, only employ basic surveys or management estimates to assess in-store customer behavior, which is neither regular nor particularly accurate.

Irisys’ technology is installed in more than 10 major retailers across the U.S., Europe and Asia. These include U.S. retailers, Price Chopper and Kroger, which are currently in trial, and leading global retailer, Tesco, who has it installed in over 800 UK and Ireland stores. In October 2006 Tesco credited Irisys’ technology in being a key factor in its ten percent increase in half-year pre-tax profits. Commenting on the implementation, Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy said, "We can monitor and manage the service customers get much more precisely - by customer, by store and by the minute. Thanks to this, a quarter of a million more customers every week don't have to queue."

Irisys (InfraRed Integrated Systems Ltd.) will be exhibiting at the upcoming National Retail Federation 98th Annual Convention & EXPO on Stand 101 from Jan. 11-14, 2009 in New York, NY.

For more information or to schedule a presentation of Irisys’ Intelligent Queue Management system email this address.

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Mike Hanlon

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