Stores are sadly closed yet again, and many retailers are taking the time to think about how they can further enhance their store experience post-lockdown.
In this blog we share some insights from Qudini’s October 2020 survey of 2,000 UK consumers which took place when stores were open. The results highlight the key concerns customers have when visiting stores, and the systems they feel can improve their customer experience for the better.
How retailers can make the most out of lockdown
Our September 2020 survey showed that even when stores have been open a large proportion of customers (63%) have been avoiding stores where possible, with Millennials, women and those from higher income household groups being the most likely to avoid stores. The main reasons for avoiding stores are health concerns and increased online shopping behaviours for 69% and 41% of customers respectively.
These insights further suggest that both inside and outside of lockdown, retailers would benefit from offering contactless curbside collections and virtual appointments to their more health conscious and omni-channel customer base.
While further insights from our consumer survey also suggested how retailers can further make the most out of this second lockdown:
Our survey insights showed that when stores have been open, customers visiting them have been most concerned by getting too close to other people (concerning 54% of shoppers), other people not wearing masks (52%), touching products and surfaces touched by others (43%) and queuing outside of stores (36%).
If retailers could use this second lockdown to further enhance their store experience in light of these customers concerns they will be able to improve sales when their stores reopen.
Queues are costing retailers
When it comes to addressing the challenge of queuing during the pandemic our survey insights showed that queues are costing retailers more than ever during the pandemic:
- Before Covid-19, 48% of consumers admitted to regularly avoiding entering stores or walking out of stores without buying anything because of queues and waits for service: 10% said they did so “often” and 38% said “Sometimes”. Millennial and GeZ customers and higher household income groups were most likely to do so.
- During the pandemic, half (48%) of consumers said they are even more likely to avoid entering or walkout out of stores without purchasing: 20% said “much more likely” and 28% said “more likely”. This is significant. Millennial and GenZ consumers are 1.7 times more likely than Baby Boomers to avoid entering or to walk out of stores without buying something because of queues and waits, while higher income households are 2-3 times more likely than lower income earners.
Overall, 21% of consumers stated they are not prepared to spend more than 3 minutes waiting, 19% would only wait between 3 and 7 minutes and another 19% will only wait between 8 and 10 minutes.
Not only are retailers losing immediate sales revenues if they have waits for service but they are also losing long term sales and customer loyalty, because 61% of consumers agreed with the statement “A long waiting experience would make me less likely to return to a retailer” (26% strongly agreeing and 35% somewhat agreeing). Higher household income groups were most likely to agree.
To help combat the significant financial loss caused by queuing during and even outside of the pandemic, we surveyed consumers on their opinions of key Retail Choreography software solutions being implemented by retailers:
- Stores hosts – that greet customers at the door to provide them with queue and wait time information using tablets.
- Virtual Queuing Systems – that enables customers to join a virtual queue (via a host or using their phone) and to receive SMS and on screen updates about their turn to enter or receive service within a store.
- In-store appointment scheduling software – that enables customers to pre-book times to visit stores to shop or receive personalised service.
Our insights showed that every type of retailer had an opportunity to improve customer experience for their customers during the pandemic, with grocery stores, building societies, pharmacies, shopping malls, opticians, department stores, fashion stores, garden centres, electronics, DIY, homeware/furniture and phone stores proving most popular.
We also found that a high percentage of customers ranked all three of these solutions as almost equally useful before the pandemic as they did during the pandemic.
The benefits of queuing and booking services
When asked what the benefit of a retailer offering one of these services would be we found that all systems would have a positive impact on customers spend, loyalty, advocacy and brand perception, with customers stating that on average:
- 13% would be more likely to buy something in-store and 11% would be more likely to buy something online – demonstrating that using these tools to better choreograph their customers’ store experience post lockdown would help retailers to drive both immediate store sales and ongoing omni-channel revenues.
- 23% would be more likely to visit the retailers stores in the first place – demonstrating that in-store appointments, hosts and virtual queue management will enable a retailer to drive more traffic into their stores long term.
- 23% would feel safer and happier and 24% would think better of the retailer – showing that such tools will enable a retailer to improve brand relationships and perception.
- 15% would be more likely to tell their friends about the retailer and 17% would be more likely to choose the retailer over their competitors – demonstrating that a retailer could improve customer advocacy and better stand out amongst competitors by offering these in-store services post lockdown.
All this presents a powerful business case for using in-store appointments and virtual queuing systems when stores reopen and suggests that retailers looking to implement these services post-lockdown could put themselves in a strong position to combat customer concerns around visiting stores and to recoup the revenues that would otherwise be lost to queues and waits for service.
Client success stories
A number of retailers are using the Qudini virtual queuing and appointment booking software to choreograph a safer and more engaging in-store experience that drives sales while making customers feel safer and happier including:
John Lewis and Waitrose
Department store retailer John Lewis and its supermarket partner Waitrose have deployed Qudini’s virtual queue management system across a number of its stores to better manage the customer waiting experience during Covid-19.
During the first lockdown, supermarket chain Asda was quick to deploy Qudini’s state-of-the-art queuing system outside a number of its stores, and has continued to expand the offering ever since.
Asda customers can join the queue via SMS or QR code and wait comfortably and safely in their cars or in the neighbouring area.
Luxury heated tobacco retailer, IQOS, has allowed customers to book one-to-one appointments with store consultants in order to create a safe customer journey and to limit the number of customers allowed in store at once.
Nike use Qudini’s appointment booking and queuing software across a number of its stores worldwide to create a safe and engaging customer experience.