Retailers are waiting at bay for the lockdown to ease and their stores to reopen, but processes still need to be put in place to manage crowds.
Physical queues might have worked for essential stores like banks and supermarkets so far, but as the lockdown eases and stores plan to reopen, retailers need to invest in new ways of managing customers besides asking them queue up outside their stores.
As a cautionary tale, several weeks ago a long queue formed outside a popular burger joint in New Zealand when the country lifted its lockdown. Customers were queuing to receive their orders when things got out of hand and the police were called. The reason why things got out of control? Customers couldn’t hear when their orders were ready.
A virtual queuing system allows customers to remotely check-in to a store via their smartphones or through a member of staff, and wait in their cars or in the neighbouring area until their turn draws near.
Here are 3 reasons why retailers should invest in a virtual queuing system:
1) Customers feel safe when visiting your store
We surveyed 2,000+ UK consumers during Covid-19 and discovered:
- 37% of consumers have eliminated non-essential trips to stores and other public places. 43% have heavily reduced trips. Only 7% have not changed their behaviour.
- Customers are avoiding “essential” retailers with open stores where possible. 22% are avoiding grocery stores, 66% banks, 37% pharmacies, 73% DIY stores, 58% pet stores.
- Across all non-essential stores, an average of 77% were avoiding them in the weeks prior to lockdown.
This shows that consumers are concerned about being exposed to the virus, and are taking active steps to reduce their time in stores and public places. The findings also suggest that consumers were avoiding stores before the lockdown took place, and will continue to do so until they feel safe.
To help customers feel safe when visiting stores, it’s essential that retailers enforce social distancing and advanced customer management processes – and virtual queuing is an excellent way to achieve that.
2) Increase sales and brand reputation
When the lockdown lifts, stores will be able to reopen – but retailers need to be realistic about the long-term impacts Covid-19 will have on the sector and seek to adapt to the situation.
Asking your customers to join a queue outside your store before being served not only puts them at risk (especially if other retailers are doing the same), it also creates a poor waiting experience that might put customers off from returning to your store.
A virtual queuing system will allow customers to check-in to enter your store remotely, receive real-time updates and notifications via SMS, email or a weblink, and then return to your store when it’s their turn to enter.
It will also enable your store associates to serve customers with ease without becoming overwhelmed by staggering the number of customers allowed in store at once. A virtual queuing system can also be used for in-store services such as click and collect or for customers seeking expert product advice.
Incorporating this software into your customer journey will also have a positive impact on your brand reputation by showing customers that you take their health and wellbeing seriously and that you’re interesting in building long-term relationships rather than trying to make a quick sale.
3) Give the economy a much-needed boost
The health of the public has been the government’s number one priority over the last few months, but as it looks to ease lockdown restrictions, many are eager to get the economy back up and running.
Consumers still want to make purchases, as is evident by the sharp increase in online sales over the lockdown period, but they will only do so if they feel safe when visiting stores. When retailers reopen their stores, sales will take place, there will be spend in the economy and many people will be in employment again.
How the virtual queuing journey works in stores
Use Qudini’s Virtual Queuing System and Appointment Scheduling Software to build customer confidence by enabling them to schedule visits and by digitally managing and updating digital queues of consumers waiting in store or outside at a safe distance.
Here’s how the the virtual queuing journey works in stores: