Asda’s system allows customers to log in to the queue remotely and wait in their car to enter the store
It follows Morrisons’ launch of a ‘speedy shopper’ system for food-to-go customers
Several major grocery retailers and foodservice operators are exploring new technologies to manage customer flow into stores in preparation for long-term social distancing measures.
It is understood Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Costa, Greggs and others are looking into virtual queueing and automated customer counting systems as part of options to reduce queues and costs.
Asda this week revealed it was trialling a virtual queueing system at a supermarket in Leeds to allow customers to log in to the queue remotely and wait in their car to enter the store.
CEO Roger Burnley said two-thirds of customers were still concerned with safety around supermarkets.
The Grocer reported in early April that Sweden-headquartered shop fitting supplier ITAB was in discussions with supermarkets about its virtual queueing technology.
ITAB is now also in talks with a number of supermarkets, convenience store groups and foodservice brands for an AI customer counting system at the door to manage shopper flow without need for a queue marshal.
The technology monitors capacity in store using AI sensors and self-checkout software, with a screen telling waiting shoppers how many people are in store and when it is safe to enter.
“Over the past two months retailers have had to train customers to shop in a different way, and this will have to continue as social distancing looks set to remain in place for a long time,” said ITAB UK sales director Simon Shankster.
“Retailers were looking at lockdown as temporary for a few months, but now they are weighing it up on a longer-term basis of a year or possibly more. Replacing a security guard or supermarket staff member managing the queue with technology, and training the customer to use it, suddenly reduces costs.”