Fujitsu uses virtual shoppers to shorten cash register wait times

The company has used "scenario analysis" software to developed simulations to help retailers optimize their checkout layouts

Tired of always picking the slowest checkout line at the supermarket?

Fujitsu is building software for that.

The company has developed code that simulates the checkout lanes of busy retailers. Fujitsu says it can accurately recreate the long lines that form at registers during peak hours, and the software suggests simple tweaks that can easily cut wait times.

One example is what to do with overburdened shoppers.

"When shoppers with a lot of items appear at the center of a row of registers, they become a sort of wall that restricts the movement of other customers, making the total average wait time longer," Fujitsu developer Shohei Yamane told IDG News Service.

"So one thing we could do is advise store employees to steer such shoppers away from central registers."

To model virtual shoppers, Fujitsu uses three different variables for behavior. These include what a shopper can see, the way they figure out the fastest queue to join, and how they maneuver to avoid other shoppers and get in line.

The software also assigns random traits to shoppers, such as the rate at which they appear and how many items they have. The end result is an average checkout time, which is calculated over a series of runs so that different register setups can be compared.

Fujitsu said this approach is more accurate than those currently used to study crowded stores. Most methods try to calculate wait times based on the simple number of shoppers and registers, assuming shoppers will naturally flow to the shortest lines at a store.

Yamane said Fujitsu has been developing the software for about six months, and has run thousands of simulations during testing.

"One thing that we found surprising was that the way in which closing certain registers affects the flow of shoppers," he said.

"We thought it would be best to simply open registers nearest customers, but there's a possibility that it's better not to close registers that are adjacent to each other."

The algorithms behind the software, which Fujitsu calls "scenario analysis," can also be applied to other areas. Yamane said one potential use is call centers, where the communication techniques of individual workers would need to be simulated to get an accurate model.

Fujitsu will test the software in businesses like supermarkets next year. It plans to eventually offer the analysis as part of its cash register business, which is run by subsidiary Fujitsu Frontech.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceapplicationsBusiness Process ManagementsoftwareFujitsu

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?