Survey insights: Why consumers want to use virtual queuing systems in retail stores

Dylan Brown
by Dylan Brown

New consumer survey demonstrates the demand for virtual queuing software for service and store visits during the Coronavirus pandemic.

A newly published Qudini survey of 2,000 UK consumers, which took place on the 25th of September, 2020, found that the vast majority of consumers would appreciate being able to join virtual queues at retail stores during Covid-19.

Read: The problem with queuing and how it is costing retailers during Covid-19

Before Covid-19, 83% of consumers admitted to walking out of stores without buying anything because of queues and waits for service (10% wait they did so “often”, 38% said “Sometimes” and 35% said “rarely”. During the pandemic, half (48%) of consumers said they are even more likely to do so (20% said “much more likely” and 28% said “more likely”).

Millennial and GenZ consumers are 1.7 times more likely than Baby Boomers 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. Females are also slightly more likely than males.

21% of consumers stated they are not prepared to wait an average of more than 3 minutes for service within a store, 19% stated between 3 and 7 minutes and another 19% stated between 8 and 10 minutes.

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).

We also looked at the top concerns customers have when queuing, and identified contracting Covid-19 (40%), the weather (36%) and not knowing how long you have to wait (34%) as being the top concerns.

The survey also found that younger generations and consumers from higher income households actually feel undervalued by brands that have long queues outside.

Find out more about virtual queue management software.

All consumers are in favour of virtual queues, especially younger consumers

Overall, consumers responded positively to the idea of using a virtual queuing system to escape physically queuing, with 81% of Millennial and GenZ consumers seeing some benefits, stating that:

! These results demonstrate that retailers with long waiting experience could obtain a significant return on investment through using customer hosts to manage customers.

Overall, the concept of virtual queuing systems has much greater appeal amongst younger demographics, particularly GenZ and Millennial demographics.

Similar to the host managed waiting experience, a virtual queuing system is 2-3 times more likely to drive GenZ, Millennial and GenX customers to make purchases both in-store and online than it is with Baby Boomers.

However, unlike host managed waiting experience, the younger generations are also much (c.35%) more likely than Baby Boomers to have improved retention, relationships and perception as a result of a retailer using a virtual queuing system.

Comparing these insights demonstrates that host managed waiting experiences are more necessary for retaining and converting older generations, while the younger, more digitally-minded demographics are equally, and often even slightly more, positively effected by virtual queuing over their phones.

The greater appreciation of virtual queuing via phone amongst younger generations indicates that there could be a far bigger future for virtual queuing beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Find out more about virtual queues

The impact virtual queues have on higher income earners

Higher earning households are also much more likely to be converted to an in-store and online purchase and to telling their friends about brands as a result of a retailer using a virtual queuing system.

Consumer stated benefits of using virtual queues

94% of younger generations see some benefit in using a virtual queuing system, while 65% of Baby Boomers also see a benefit.

The most appealing benefits of a virtual queuing system to consumers were the ability to the reduce risk of contracting Covid-19, followed by saving time and avoiding poor weather conditions. Younger generations are more concerned with using their time productively and fair process while older generations are more concerned with avoiding poor weather conditions.

All household incomes are equally likely to see the health benefits of a virtual queuing system.

90% of customers with household incomes of more than £50,001 see some benefit in using a virtual queuing system, compared to 79% of those with household incomes of less than £50,000.

How consumers prefer to join virtual queues

When asked how consumers would want to engage with the virtual queue, it was interesting to see that consumers were most likely to join the queue by texting an SMS code (47%), followed by through a host with a tablet (46%). Interestingly, consumers were only slightly less likely to want to join a queue by a self-service tablet kiosk (43%) or a QR code (45%).

Half of customers (48%) said they were willing to give their mobile number purely to receive updates about their queue position, while a quarter (27%) said they would opt into marketing messaging.

Baby Boomer consumers are slightly more likely to join the queue via host or by SMS code than they are by QR code or a self-service tablet kiosk, whereas Millennial and GenZ consumers are equally likely to use all methods and are, interestingly, slightly more likely to use their phone or a self-service kiosk over a host.

Younger generations are 22% more likely to give their mobile number and 35% more likely to opt into marketing messaging.

Interestingly consumers from higher household income groups are more likely to join the queue by SMS, QR code and most methods in general. They are also more likely to give their mobile numbers and twice more likely to opt-in to marketing communications.

On average, female respondents are slightly (18%) more likely than males to join the virtual queue by each method and to provide their mobile number purely to receive SMS updates about their queue position.

However, both genders are equally as likely to opt-in to marketing messages, at 26% (a quarter of respondents).

How long should queues be before retailers use virtual queues

Most consumers considered anywhere between a 0 and 15 minute wait time as the appropriate length before using a virtual queuing system. There was a near even split in the correlation between joining a queue via phone or store host and the wait time. This was especially interesting, as we had assumed that people would require a long wait before joining the queue by phone rather than through the host.

Looking at the mean wait time that customers said that joining the virtual queue via a host vs by phone would be useful to them, and we can see people would find virtual queuing to be useful at a mean wait time of 9.02 minutes with the wait being just 1 minute less for the host to become useful.

In general, Baby Boomers are the least patient and would find a virtual queuing system system at a lower mean wait time of 7.6 minutes by phone and 8 minutes by host. Whereas Millennial and GenZ consumers appear to be more patient with a mean wait time of 9 minutes for the host vs 10.7 minutes for joining the queue by phone.

Those from higher income households think a higher wait time is acceptable before a virtual queue comes into effect.

Download the full survey for more in-depth insights here.

Creating effective signage for virtual queues

In order to get the most out of virtual queuing software, retailers also need to create effective and easy to understand signage.

The image below shows the formula we use for creating effective virtual queuing signage that drives customers to check-in.

To help our clients to create clear signage for their virtual queuing offering, we’ve pulled together a guide.

How to create effective signage for virtual queues

Overall, our survey insights found that while queuing is a challenge that costs retailers significant revenue opportunity, virtual queuing systems serve as a powerful antidote that can even enable retailers to turn a typically negative experience into something that increases sales both online and offline, while driving strong customer relationships in the process.

Download the full survey for more in-depth insights here.


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