Forrester Research asked U.S. grocery consumers how satisfied they were with 15 different aspects of their shopping experience. Not surprisingly, ‘length of lines’ finished dead last.

Retailers invest billions into designing floor plans that create a streamlined shopping experience. They hire entire teams devoted to implementing branded store designs, digital display networks, printed in-store adverts, and loss-leading discount campaigns to get shoppers in the door.

And still, in the midst of all this spending, there is one challenge grocery stores can’t seem to solve – long lines. It’s a non-scalable problem that even the latest self-checkout and scan and pay solutions aren’t able to fully address. This is, in part because new technology adoption by large consumer populations takes time, especially when money is involved. But even once we get over this hump, there is still a human bottleneck in the self-checkout scenario.

Payments Journal reports that “a staggering 80% of customers need store assistance when using self-checkout.” So much for efficiency. Employees are still required to assist in the checkout process for the majority of purchases, which means each store has to devote one or more employees to hover in and around the self-checkout area.

What’s worse is that these employees aren’t fully engaged. They could have several minutes of downtime where no requests come in at all. This leaves them virtually tethered to the PoS kiosk area when they could be performing other productive tasks. Over time, stores may be employing staff who are spending hours every month simply standing still, waiting to react to self-checkout assistance requests. One big contributing factor to this unproductive scenario is line of sight. Even with alert lights above self-checkout kiosks, employees on the other side of an aisle can’t see them in many cases. This means, customers are left waiting, and queues grow, defeating the whole purposes of installing fully automated checkout solutions.

At Turnpike, we are working on a simple solution for the “line of sight” issue by offering connected wearables that are triggered by the PoS system whenever a self-checkout shopper needs assistance. This eliminates the need for employees to stand by the tills in waiting. Instead, they can go about their everyday tasks, and immediately be alerted when a customer needs assistance, even if they aren’t in line of sight. With instant response times stores can maximize their productivity while still empowering their employees to react in real-time, giving consumers a more streamlined checkout experience.

by Shawn Adamek, Chief Commercial Officer at Turnpike