Big Brother Knows….When You’re Buying Groceries?

Recently, we stopped in at a local Kroger to get a couple of things.  While checking out, I noticed a couple of flat screen displays that appeared, at first glance, to show the results of the three digit lottery.

But, upon further inspection, it was actually a system used by the managers and cashiers to show the number of registers open, as well as the number that would need to be open 30 minutes down the road.

I talked with the cashier for a moment, and he said that they actually used a system that kept track of people entering and exiting the store, calculated the people in the store at any one time, and could use that information to predict how many cash registers should be open.

The idea is to reduce the two most frustrating experiences at the cash register.  The most frustrating to the customer is to have long lines with not enough registers open.  The most frustrating to the store is to have a whole bunch of cashiers standing around waiting for customers.

The cashier made it sound like this is a test system, but it’ll be interesting to see if it actually works and becomes the norm down the road.  I’m a little skeptical, because it reminds me too much of the system where traffic lights are controlled by cameras that detect traffic at an intersection and supposedly adjust the timing of the lights accordingly.  I’ve always felt that these disrupt the flow of traffic and always seem a few steps behind, so I’m leary of trusting this technology in the grocery store.

Still, as always, big brother is watching!