Retailers to manage Black Friday crowds with virtual queuing and appointment booking software

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

This year’s Black Friday will look remarkably different. Most notably, the chaotic crowds and queues that personify one of the world’s busiest shopping days will be replaced with virtual queues, online appointments and curbside collection.

Black Friday is undergoing a major transformation. Last year, footfall figures were down, online sales were up and shoppers were 10% more likely to visit local retailers than their nationwide competitors.

Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic will bring about even more change to shopping behaviors over the Black Friday and wider holiday shopping season. Yet several studies have indicated that the global pandemic is yet to dampen the spirits of shoppers over the holiday period, with many planning to make just as many purchases as they have in previous years.

A survey by Rakuten found three quarters of consumers around the world are not planning on reducing their spending during Christmas this year, and 87% of global shoppers will still be shopping for Christmas and other seasonal holidays. In addition, 57% said they expect to make a purchase on key retail sales dates like Black Friday.

However, the crowds of consumers gathering outside of stores and fighting over products seen in recent years will be replaced by omni-channel, tech-driven solutions.

Consumers will avoid stores with long lines and crowds

It might be tempting for retailers to let their sales speak for themselves, as they’ve done in previous years, but during the coronavirus outbreak, consumers are watching closely to see how brands are reacting to the pandemic, and it’s influencing their buying decisions.

An average of 65% of global consumers state how well a brand responds to the pandemic will have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy from them in the future, Statista found.

In anticipation of Covid-19’s impact on holiday sales, many leading retailers have been making preparations to ensure their customer experience is safe and enjoyable, most notably, deploying virtual queuing software and appointment booking software.

Walmart-owned Asda use virtual queuing software outside a number of its stores.

Such initiatives have been driven by the new need to prioritize customer safety and to reduce uncertainty and friction in order to build customer confidence to visit stores. Many retailers have even accelerated customer experience projects already in their five year road maps, and the pandemic has helped provide clarity over which to prioritize.

Having lost significant revenues due to store closures at the start of the pandemic, growing numbers of retailers are now adopting virtual queuing and appointment booking software to enable them to drive their Q4 2020 and Black Friday targets. This is due to such software’s ability to drive and retain footfall that converts at a higher spend value, while ensuring that store productivity is maximized and lasting customer relationships are built. Here are three methods retailers are employing to achieve these results.

Eliminate the need for wait lines with Retail Choreography software

2019’s Black Friday weekend saw a turnaround of $7.4 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics.

This Black Friday we could see online sales figures rise even higher. E-commerce sales skyrocketed during the lockdown period, and a growing reliance on online shopping and deliveries combined with a reluctance from many consumers to make traditional shopping trips to stores months after they had reopened could boost these numbers even higher.

Those that do make trips to stores this Black Friday will be hoping for relaxed, enjoyable shopping experiences as opposed to chaotic wait lines and bustling crowds.

In reference to 2019’s Black Friday sales, Jon Reily, the head of global commerce strategy at Publicis Sapient, said:

“People seek out experiences, they want the winter wonderlands, and you can’t get that online. That’s still part of the culture, that portion of it is still healthy.”

Retailers can create safe, engaging and efficient shop floor experiences this Black Friday by using queue management software and appointment booking software.

What is virtual queuing or appointment booking software?

During Covid-19, increasing numbers of retailers are using such queuing and booking software to enable customers to queue virtually to enter store and to receive service.

Department store retailer John Lewis use Qudini’s Virtual Queue Management Software.

Virtual queuing software allows customers to join queues remotely via a smartphone, store host or kiosk. They are updated of their position in the line and receive real-time notifications throughout the journey.

Find out more about virtual queuing software

Appointment booking software enables customers to schedule fixed time-slots to visit a location. Once their appointment is booked, the customer receives confirmation and reminder emails and SMS messages with links to cancel their time-slot or reschedule if they need to.

During the pandemic, retailers are using appointment booking software to enable their customers to schedule times to visit stores.

Learn more about appointment booking software

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