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Google maps out grocery checkout times

New service provides shoppers with real-time updates on in-store wait times


By using data from shoppers’ smartphones, Google is now providing real-time updates of how busy a grocery store is and how long shoppers will likely have to wait in checkout lines.

Estimates are based on anonymous data from users who have opted in to Google Location History and provides popular visit times, wait times and average visit durations. The new services were announced earlier this month and were available first for restaurants (via Google Search and then Maps) and have just been extended to cover grocery stores.

The data appears below the existing business information provided by Google, in Search or Maps, and will only be provided if Google can get enough visit data for the business—in other words, a threshold number of visitors who have opted into Location tracking. (Google would not say what percentage of its users opt into Location History.)

Average visits over the last few weeks are being used to create a "popular times" graph, which shows how busy the store is at different times of the day as well as the typical time spent at a location based on patterns of customer visits. This data will also provide the average checkout time. On top of that, live tracking of consumers in the store provides some insight into how busy the store is at that moment.

For example, on Monday afternoons around 3:30 it usually takes about 10 minutes to checkout at the Whole Foods in Mississauga, but this past Monday at that time the store was less busy than usual.

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