Kroger Manages Checkout Flow with Infrared Sensors

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Infared sensors at Kroger Infared sensors at Kroger
Customers checking out at Kroger Customers checking out at Kroger

Getting groceries can be a drag when checkout takes an eternity, but one major grocery store chain is using technology to cut down on long lines.

Kroger is using heat sensors to detect when the store gets busy. It started out in just a few stores and now all Kroger stores are using the sensors full-time.

The small white device is on the ceiling above the entrance to Kroger. They are also installed at the front of each checkout line. 

"It checks and sees how many registers we have open, it sees how many registers we need open and how many registers we should open in 30 minutes based on the amount of customers in the store," said Don Surratt, a Kroger store manager. 

The sensors take customer shopping patterns into account when calculating how many registers need to be open. For example, a Saturday afternoon shopper will most likely spend a longer amount of time in the store compared to the 5:30 Friday evening shopper. 

A screen at the front of the store lets employees know when to open up or close down an additional lane. 

The heat sensors detect shoppers the second they walk in the door, but the impact isn't felt until the shopper hits the checkout line. 

Surratt says the heat sensors have dramatically cut down checkout wait times. Before the sensors, the store's regional average wait time was four minutes; now it's only 27 seconds. 

Surratt says it was customer surveys that revealed shoppers wanted faster checkout services. 

"Our customers are telling us they want speedier checkout and we tried to be able to offer that to them," Surratt said. 

The heat sensors do not photograph or identify shoppers and they are only placed at checkout lines and store entrances - not throughout the entire store.

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