- Google will soon roll out a tool through its Google Maps program that estimates checkout times at grocery stores, according to Retail Wire.
- The tech company developed a similar tool for restaurants, which launched last week. Google plans to release its checkout estimator sometime before Thanksgiving.
- Google’s new tool comes at a time when retailers are focused on reducing checkout times for customers. Amazon developed its checkout-free Go store in Seattle, while Hy-Vee recently installed a traffic light system at select stores indicating wait times at each register.
Google’s new checkout tool is certainly interesting, but will it have an impact on how and where consumers shop?
It’s hard to imagine a long checkout time turning people away from their preferred stores. It seems more likely that people will use the tool to figure out what time of day they’ll visit. Then again, in really competitive markets where grocers are practically on top of one another, it could be very easy to make the switch based on this information.
Study after study has shown that checkout wait times are a major headache for consumers. As store technology evolves and more shoppers migrate online, where purchases happen at the click of a button, their patience for long lines has become even shorter.
Most large-scale grocers are addressing the problem. Walmart is implementing its “Scan & Go” app that lets customers ring up purchases and pay using their smartphones. Kroger, as part of its Restock growth plan, will expand compatibility for its “Scan, Bag, Go” mobile app from 20 stores to 400 next year.
But time-trimming technology isn’t only available to big operators. Mobile apps like Skip Checkout, which ran a successful pilot recently with twelve-store Maceys in Utah, are accessible to small chains.
There are also low-tech solutions that can reduce wait times. Aldi stores in the U.K. are training their cashiers to scan and bag items more quickly. Here in the U.S., retailers are also focused on training, optimizing front-end staffing and redesigning aisles to improve customer flow.
Of course, retailers’ main concern is maximizing sales per square foot. Earlier this year, Jewel-Osco and candy supplier Mars Inc. unveiled a new checkout design that wasn’t necessarily faster, but boosted conversion rates on impulse buys from 15% to 55%.