John Lewis and Waitrose stop customers from physically queuing outside stores

Dylan Brown
by Dylan Brown

Iconic British department store retailer, John Lewis & Partners, and supermarket chain, Waitrose & Partners, enable customers to avoid queues at 10 of its stores by trialling Qudini’s Queue Management System and Appointment Scheduling Software.

As recently mentioned by the Daily Mail and Retail Week, John Lewis and Waitrose stores are trialling Qudini’s Virtual Queuing System to offer a safe and engaging shopping experience during the Coronavirus outbreak by eliminating physical queues and managing the flow of customers around their large department stores and supermarkets.

Peter Cross, a director at Waitrose, said: “This brand new trial will let you wait for your turn in line from the comfort of your car, ensuring that everyone can continue to shop safely and seamlessly.”

Qudini’s queuing app allows John Lewis and Waitrose customers to queue remotely.

How virtual queuing works at John Lewis and Waitrose stores

Using Qudini’s queuing app, customers wanting to enter the store when it’s at capacity can scan a QR code or text an SMS code provided on a poster outside of the store. Once added to the virtual queue, customers will then receive an SMS message confirming their place in the queue and providing them with a weblink where they can view a live countdown of their place in the queue. When the customer nears the top of the queue, they’ll receive a further SMS message letting them know it’s their turn to enter the store.

This experience enables customers to wait remotely to enter the John Lewis and Waitrose stores without physically queuing and even from the safety and comfort of their own cars.

Qudini’s queue app gives John Lewis customers an estimated wait time and position number.

Furthermore, John Lewis stores are also using the Qudini virtual queuing app to manage queues across departments, starting with the children’s department, which now allows customers to join a virtual queue for services within the departments through a QR code and an SMS code, or through a John Lewis store partner from a tablet device.

Once added to the queue, customers will receive a confirmation SMS message with their queue position, estimated wait time and a link to follow their place while they wait. The customer will receive a further SMS message when they reach second place in the queue.

This experience enables customers to relax and wait at a safe distance or even to browse the store while they wait their turn for service.

Find out more about Qudini’s Queue Management Software 

Retail expert Richard Hyman told the Daily Mail’s This Is Money that: “There’s no doubt that some people will be put off by queuing in the rain, and retailers need to capture those sales, particularly John Lewis. I think other shops will follow suit.”

How visitor time-slot scheduling software works at John Lewis and Waitrose stores

In addition, customers also have the option of booking a fixed time to visit a store from the John Lewis and Waitrose websites.

John Lewis’s visitor time-slot scheduling interface.

Customers can do this by simply selecting a time-slot to visit a store and filling out their contact details. Customers receive a confirmation message about their time-slot, as well as regular notifications to keep them engaged and informed.

Learn more about time-slot scheduling software

When their time approaches, customers head to a store entrance where they will be greeted by a store host. This approach is an effective way of putting customers’ minds at ease, as it eliminates any fears or concerns customers might have towards long queues outside of stores.

John Lewis and Waitrose stores can manage customer occupancy levels to ensure social distancing

At John Lewis‘s suggestion and with the creative support from the team, Qudini has also developed a new Store Occupancy Management feature which is also being offered to the retail industry as a whole.

Stores can easily manage the number of customers coming into their stores using Qudini’s new occupancy tracking feature.

The functionality allows the John Lewis and Waitrose store partners to use the Qudini app on a tablet or smartphone device to easily track the number of customers entering and exiting the store. In large stores with many entrances and departments, this functionality enables the partners to communicate in real-time to control customer flow and ensure a safe level of store occupancy at any one time.

Find out more about Qudini’s Occupancy Tracking Feature.

Imogen Wethered, CEO and Co-founder of Qudini, says:

“It’s been incredible to have the opportunity to partner with John Lewis to help improve its Covid-19 shopping experience through virtual queuing. Having been through John Lewis’s JLab accelerator programme (with the company subsequently becoming a shareholder in Qudini), we’ve been thoroughly impressed by how committed the team is to driving innovation and change by working with agile technology companies like ours.”

“We’ve been providing virtual queuing functionality to a number of leading brands for eight years now, but John Lewis were the first to suggest that we could build a new feature to help its store partners better manage and communicate store occupancy levels in real-time across its many store entrances and departments.

“At the moment, the Qudini team is rapidly working with a number of leading retailers to deploy our virtual queuing system and appointment booking software before winter hits, helping to keep customers safe while driving significant Q4 sales targets at a time where this is more important than ever.

“I genuinely believe that virtual queuing and appointment booking software will play a significant role in keeping retail stores safe and, therefore, open throughout the pandemic, and it is particularly important for retailers and the economy with the threat of winter looming. It’s incredible to see brands like John Lewis setting an example of what safe stores should look like.

“More than anything, it’s also fantastic to be working with such a quintessential British brand to be solving a very British problem.”

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