It is worth to say that year 2008 is very nice year in terms of number of innovative store automation approaches that came into Lithuanian market. Huge self checkouts roll-out by IKI, electronic shelf labels at BMS, official press releases about online shopping at Maxima. And thats just top of the iceberg seen by everyday shopper… On 17th of September Rimi, a third largest retail chain in Lithuania announced being first to introduce Queue Management System (QMS) at one of largest hypermarkets in Vilnius – “Hyper Rimi”.
I stepped in to the store floor to check out solution this week and would like to share my first impressions. In Lithuania queue management service is very common in banking sector where customer is expecting such system in almost every, even very small branch of a Bank. As more and more markets has been faced with queue problems (mainly due to emigration of workforce and economy growth) last years – QMS has been stepped out of being only banking solution. Lately (last 1-2 years) markets such as government, hospitals has been hired technology to beat their queues as well.
So it was very interesting to see how it will be implemented in retail evironment. At Rimi I found 4 “Q-matic Solo” take-your-ticket printer stands and 13 matrix screens for displaying currently served ticket number. They are placed in several store departments where no self service is availible and customers has to queue for products (such fresh meat or take-a-way food). This is exactly the same system (HW, SW) that is in use in Banks (at least my eyes did not catched any difference).
During my observation custumers where taking tickets and… still standing in the queue with tickets in their hands. Main purpose of such system would be to give customer freedom of continuing shopping in the store until his number will show up in the screen. Another remark – big part of customers where standing in queue without any ticket at all. They where simply ignoring the solution. I think retail envirnomnet is a bit different and key aspects of it must be considered when implementing new technology.
In this case – I would think about making stands more visible (maybe some more visible colour instead of grey), maybe to train cashiers of QMS tills to infor customers without tickets that next time they can save time and use ticket machice. Make number sequence from display visible in bigger area of the store so customers could continue their shopping. Give additional information on the ticket – for example av. waiting time. Put “greeters” for a few days or weeks – to instruct first time customers.