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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), The Kroger Co. (KR): Is Anyone Else Playing With Infrared Cameras?

Is Kroger A Good Stock to BuyHave you been into a The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) lately? If not, you might want to consider going. Like many of the big box retailers and grocery superstores out there, Kroger is looking to reduce wait times in its checkout lines.

Reducing time wasted

It may not seem like much, but think about it. You’ve likely been grocery shopping before. After you’ve picked everything out you go looking for what will likely be the quickest cash register. Do you know your average time once there? Four minutes!

Four minutes is a whole lot of time to be standing around doing nothing, and stores know this. The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is the first to begin implementing what could be the norm at grocery chains someday: infrared cameras. They’re already in more than 95% of the company’s 2,400 stores nationwide, and they’re working.

What infrared cameras do

QueVision keeps track of the amount of customers in a store. With this information, store managers will be better able to make sure that the correct amount of checkout lanes are open, and that backlogs don’t arise at the checkout.

If you want a rundown and don’t mind sitting through an absolutely awful video, YouTube has you covered (video link).

What’s the big idea?

Technology can help any business with its processes, even a grocery store. Infrared cameras combined with the predictive software that The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) has in place may not directly add to the bottom line, but they will help over time.

It’s all about providing the customer with a better experience that keeps him or her coming back time and time again. If you keep customers coming in the door, it definitely adds to the bottom line.

Using the system, The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) has already discovered that many people flock to the stores at lunch to pick up something to eat. These people were waiting longer than they should have been. Kroger changed that with its all-new Express Lanes in popular stores.

Anyone else playing with technology?

You had to expect that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) would be toying with this technology, and it is. Along with the news of The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR)’s new Infrared system yesterday came word of an app from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The app allows customers to track their spending in the store before making it to checkout.

Using the app will help shoppers stay within their budgets. Once again, this isn’t something that’s going to add to the bottom line. It is, however, something that customers enjoy, get used to, and keep going back to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) to use.

Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) is not playing along in the technology game as much as these other two, but it is treading in the deep end of data and analytics. This Forbes article from last year shows you just how much Target knows about their customers. The New York Times has also produced an article with Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) front and center.

Investing

While Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) may not be investing as heavily into the technology that Kroger and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) are, I believe that its time will come. For now, data and analytics are big business. Target is able to better Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) (sorry) its customers and get them into the stores.

Wal-Mart is, well Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The biggest of its kind in the world, it’ll likely continue expanding out to the farthest reaches of the globe. Its next frontier will be challenging Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and if management does it right, there will be no stopping Wal-Mart.

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is by far the smallest of the bunch. Kroger has the advantage in that it can focus on smaller transactions because its stores are generally smaller.

Which one?

All three of these companies have great prospects for growth. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these stocks in your portfolio. To be safe, we will check the five-year growth numbers, the dividend yield, and the P/E ratio to see which is the best pick.

We’ll start with the five-year growth forecast, where Kroger wins out with a 12.2%. Target follows a close second with 9.5%, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is at the back of the pack with a 5.4%.

When it comes to the dividend yield, which all three of these grocery chains have, it’s Wal-Mart who takes the victory. Wal-Mart’s yield is a moderate 2.37%, while Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) offers 2.04% and The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) pays out 1.73%.

Kroger takes the victory in terms of P/E ratio too. The company’s P/E ratio sits at 12.52, while Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Target are firmly within the 15’s.

Final verdict

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) offers the versatility of a small fish in a giant pond. It also pays a dividend and has a five-year growth rate of 12.2%.

While Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) aren’t bad companies, it seems that analysts’ best pick here is The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR).

The article Kroger Has New Technology – What About Its Competitors? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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