Morrisons buys queue-busting camera system

Morrisons has signed a deal to install a customer counting system based on infrared cameras across its chain.

The UK's third largest supermarket said it would install the ceiling-mounted infrared detectors over checkout lanes, together with detectors counting the number of people entering the store, in 300 stores across the UK to improve customer service.

The customer counting system, supplied by Infrared Integrated Systems (Irisys), will be used to help the retailer match its allocation of staff in-store to footfall numbers and therefore speed up its checkout service.

Tesco has been using similar, bespoke technology from the provider for some years now to underpin its one-in-front' customer campaign pledge and keep in-store queue waiting time to a minimum for customers.

As an alternative to video or beam-based people counting systems, the infrared system detects customers by their body heat, avoiding potential privacy issues. And customer counting software calculates average queue length, average wait time and overall store checkout performance.

The system also provides a dashboard reporting software, available on either PC or PDA mobile device. And Irisys predictor software is used to calculate and display how many checkouts will be needed in 15 and 30 minutes time to meet customer demand.

Morrisons said its stores will also be able to use real-time data when assigning shifts to checkout staff using the Irisys till scheduler tool to make better staffing decisions over four to six weeks in advance, by integrating it with historical sales and customer relationship management (CRM) data.

Morrisons made the decision to roll out the system's first commercial deployment over the next six months after successful trials in five stores.

Sylvia Jones, the company's head of retail operations, said the system had proved the most cost-effective means of benefiting customers with improved service.

The investment is part of Morrisons' strategy to ensure customers receive the best possible service at the checkouts, which she said was "one of the most important elements of the shopping experience, but also one of the biggest challenges."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.