Cameras roll as Asda looks to halve queues

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Asda is rolling out a new queue management system it claims could almost halve the amount of time frustrated Brits spend waiting in line at the till.

The retailer has been developing the system for the past two years and has been trialling it in 30 stores for six months. The system, Queue Clarity, would knock up to a minute off the average queuing time, it said.

Queue Clarity uses stereoscopic cameras to count the number of shoppers entering a store. The numbers are analysed and sent to a manned dashboard on the shop floor. The dashboard then indicates how many tills will need to be open 10 minutes later to avoid a build-up of shoppers at the tills. Asda says it has invested several million pounds in bringing the new system to stores.

“Competitors’ systems use heat sensors to monitor the flow of customers into a store - which is now an outdated method,” Asda’s retail service innovation manager James Airey explained. “Queue Clarity uses video analytics that can tell the difference between adults and children. So whereas heat sensors will just record three people walking into a shop, our system can tell it is just one shopper with two kids - which delivers a more accurate result.”

The rollout starts this weekend and will be in all stores by April. Last year, Asda shoppers queued for an average of 2 minutes 33 seconds according to The Grocer 33. Tesco boasted the quickest queues at 2 minutes 19 seconds, but if Asda’s new system delivers the cuts it predicts, it will beat that.

“Customers have seen a tangible improvement in queue performance during the trials,” Airey said. “We don’t need to react retrospectively once queues have built up anymore. We can act proactively because we know there is going to be a rush on.”

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