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The typical holiday shopping season, from November to January, is an important time for most retailers. With Black Friday, Christmas gifts and Boxing Day sales, holiday sales were predicted to amount to $1.147 trillion and $1.152 trillion in 2019, accounting for a large percentage of total sales for many retailers. Unfortunately, with the pandemic underway, lower in-store capacities, financial instability, and stay-at-home orders are expected to create a very different holiday shopping season.
With the number of bankruptcies at a 10-year high due to the ongoing pandemic, it's no surprise that retailers are struggling. Although non-essential businesses have re-opened across the country, a threat of a second wave remains, which could lead to further store closures.
Originally published in RIS News
Think about some of the busiest times of the year for retail business. Black Friday, holidays, blowout and clearance sales, back to school, and other special events draw some of the biggest crowds stores ever see. Some stores draw long lines no matter what time of year it is, like cell phone companies and big-box retailers. Customers dread the long shopping queues and often wish they could continue to shop until they can easily check out. As a business owner, wouldn’t you love the extra chance to let them continue to shop?
For retail store owners, the pandemic helped to emphasize a trend that we all expected to happen eventually: the rapid rise of online shopping. In the U.S. alone, 91% of the population is expected to shop online by 2023. That number is staggering, but that doesn’t mean retailers should abandon in-person shopping experiences altogether. In fact, consumers regularly spend more money when shopping in-person, compared to online shopping. As stores begin to reopen their physical locations after the first wave of the pandemic, using technology can help modernize the in-person experience, attract more customers, increase revenue, and keep everyone safe.
Not all states and cities have fully legalized recreational marijuana, but those that have draw crowds from near and far away. Even the dispensaries that only sell medical marijuana pull in the crowds, especially when they restock with new varieties. Owners of marijuana dispensaries are used to having to manage crowded lobbies and long lines. But what if there was a better way than just “dealing with it”? QLess dispensary management software offers waiting room solutions for marijuana dispensaries that give them a modern edge against the competition.
As a customer yourself, have you ever walked into a store, seen dozens of people waiting in line, and immediately walked right back out? Even the sight of a long line can turn your customers away from purchasing items in your store. Time is a precious thing when you have a full schedule, and not everyone has hours to spend shopping. The solution is modern technology that disperses lines and reduces customers’ wait times. QLess’ queue management app keeps customers from waiting in a queue, when they could be continuing to shop.
This article was originally published in Independent Retailer.
How many times have you arrived at a scheduled appointment, only to find out that the person you’re meeting is running behind? You're forced to wait minutes, maybe hours, for something that you expected to happen on time, which results in your entire day being uprooted. We’ve all been through this. Doctors, dentists, lawyers — they’re all guilty of this minor, but frustrating, offense.
At QLess, our mission isn't just to eliminate lines and improve the customer experience – it's to do all that in the most cost-effective way possible. Sure, if cost weren't a consideration, you could just hire more staff or redesign your waiting room or store to account for service delays. But those aren't options for a responsible operation. With QLess' scalable, easy-to-use platform you can solve problems that are costing your organization major revenue at a price that you can afford.
Still skeptical? Check out our new ROI calculator. Walk through this simple and free resource to see how you can potentially increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and manage sustainable growth with QLess.
When it comes to improving the customer experience, execution is everything. It’s one thing to offer a digital queue manager; it’s another thing entirely to provide a platform that solves some of your most pressing business needs while also improving the customer experience.
Queue management vendors vary widely in this respect.
QLess may not be the only queue management solution out there, but our cloud-based platform is the easiest to use, manage, and implement.
Click here to learn how QLess stacks up to other queue management platforms.
Have you ever been to an amusement park right when it opens? The first thing people do is run full-tilt to get a place in line for the most popular rides. As a ritual for amusement park die-hards, this race can be a rush, but it really represents people making the best of a bad situation. Waiting in line for rides has been an unavoidable burden of the amusement park experience, and the thought of getting footsore on the baking asphalt while packed in a serpentine queue has soured people on many a trip to amusement parks.
The good news? The digital age is here and everyone has a smartphone – that means with online queueing, amusement park patrons no longer need to waste half their day just waiting around. They can join a virtual line!
It’s no secret that today’s brick-and-mortar businesses must implement creative strategies to convert online research into offline sales. That means optimizing in-store experiences to capture those sales while also earning a customer’s loyalty.
We’ve created an infographic outlining the ways in which the QLess queue management and appointment scheduling solution for retail enhances your business operations, improves your customer’s journey, and helps turn them into loyal shoppers for life.
If you’ve set foot in a shopping mall within the last few years, you may have noticed a big, impressive automated concierge kiosk. With futuristic designs and interactive touchscreen maps, these features look like something out of Star Trek and can help visitors find the stores they’re looking for. And for the minority of shoppers who notice the kiosk and use it, they can be fairly helpful, and certainly feel futuristic.
But they can also cost more than $15,000 each to install and manage, cannot be used to make appointments, and are very definitely not portable. Digital queueing, on the other hand, provides all the functionality of a fancy kiosk and much more while leveraging consumers’ constant access to mobile technology.
Few things are as much fun for kids as a trip to the local museum. Whether it’s checking out dinosaur bones, moon rocks, or art, it’s a great way to have a fun and interactive learning experience. But what’s not so fun is waiting in line. It’s a drag for adults, but if you’ve ever seen a three-year-old have a full-on meltdown standing in a queue, you know that it’s a million times worse for children.
Putting the customer first is one of the oldest (and most successful) strategies in retail. But, in the 21st century, traditional customer service methods are not enough on their own. To keep up with your competitors and meet the needs of the modern shopper, you need to use modern technology and consider factors that have been shown to make a big difference.
Think about the times you walked into a store without a particular item in mind—times when you knew you wanted to shop, but weren’t looking for anything specific. How were you able to locate the right products? Odds are that the store layout played a big part in your purchase.
It’s 7a.m. and you’re waiting in a long line of other caffeine-deprived folks just trying to snag your extra-tall caramel latte and get to work on time. Then the door opens and you watch with incredulity as some newcomer walks in, strolls straight up to the the counter and gets served immediately. Sounds unfair right?
If you’re the operator of one of the many businesses that now offers online and mobile pre-orders, you should know that this is how many of your customers could be feeling right now.
Pre-ordering apps have quickly become popular in food and coffee establishments, but the roll-out hasn’t been totally smooth.
It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar stores are in deep, deep trouble. Major chains like Toys “R” Us are gone, and others like Sears and JCPenney are on life support. It’s not that Americans aren’t buying things – Amazon managed to bring in more than 8 billion dollars last year – but in a world of instant gratification the paradigm of walking into a store and walking out with a full bag just isn’t working.
Except it actually is.
Over the past 10 years, the Apple brand has become one of the most popular – and profitable – brands in the world, thanks in no small part to the company’s revolutionary products like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Macbook.
With more and more people around the world pledging their allegiance to Apple products, many are beginning to wonder if the company has the capability to properly service its fan base. The average Apple store wait times suggests the answer is a resounding... maybe.
Keeping your clientele happy is, of course, an important part of building a successful business. To accomplish this, you need to know about the most common causes of customer frustrations.
Read on to uncover the seven common customer service complaints in retail to avoid.
There is an undeniable shift in the world. Today's “on-demand” economy has fundamentally changed the way we conduct business.
In this new era of competitive advantage, customer satisfaction is set by high expectations and the desire for instant gratification.
With technology empowering consumers, a winning business strategy includes consistent, personalized, and high-value in-person and digital customer experiences.
Johnstone Supply – a wholesale HVAC supplier with over 400 stores across the US States – is the top cooperative wholesale distributor in the country and a recognized national leader in the HVACR industry.
Despite getting a lot of walk-in business from HVAC and construction professionals, customers often neglected to browse the store’s 1,500 square foot showroom because they wanted to secure their place in line.
To address this issue, store manager Jake Bishop sought a solution beyond outdated take-a-number systems. While researching virtual queuing solutions, Bishop found QLess. After a swift and smooth implementation process, Johnstone customers are deeply attached to the QLess system, which not only makes shopping easier and less stressful, but also provides invaluable data for the company to use.
We’ve all seen those ticket machines labeled “PLEASE Take A Number.” These internationally recognized symbols of long queues are the best way to signal to visitors that your waiting room is about to live up to its name. They’re out-of-date tools for an obsolete system.
Technology is making all aspects of our lives easier and more efficient, and the same goes for waiting your turn. Here are the top 7 reasons to scrap the take-a-number system:
Today’s consumers have endless options when it comes to where to spend their money, so the savviest businesses (from retailers to doctor’s offices) know they’ve got to set themselves apart from the pack. The most impactful and low-cost way is to deliver stellar customer service. People remember when they get it, tell others about it, and honor it with repeat business. Just as true: people don’t hesitate to bail when service is poor. Below are five ways to help ensure that customers stick around:
Watch this complimentary webinar to discover the 5 ways to deliver a 5-star customer experience.
Hosted by Dr. Alex Bäcker – technology solutions expert, TEDx speaker, and Gold Stevie winner for IT Executive of the Year – you will gain insights to create a great customer experience and get a closer look at technology that will make you a hero at your business and with your customers.
As an expert in SaaS solutions, Alex works closely with a variety of retail businesses to cultivate 5-star reviews – such as at Vodafone, MTS Allstream, Tire Rack, Mecum Auctions, The Chicago Cubs, and Tourneau.
Apple hit a new market cap record this month. Valued at over 732 billion dollars, it's the most valuable company in the known universe. So you'd be forgiven for thinking the future of Apple is bright. But unless big changes are made, Apple's past will shine brighter than its future.
Look, I'm no anti-Apple boy. I am writing this on a MacBook Air, while my iPhone 7 sits nearby. I lost too many iPads to keep track of, and frankly haven't bothered to replace the last one. I've even been paid by Apple.
Yet the signs are all too clear that Apple is no longer the innovation powerhouse and meticulous perfectionist it was under Steve Jobs.
There’s no question that customers are becoming more demanding. The reason: in our consumer-driven economy today, we all have access to lots of information and many, many more choices than we did in the past.
With the growth of internet commerce and shopping over the past 20 years, shoppers have become sophisticated and savvy with access
to all the pricing and quality information about anything they want to buy right in the palm of their hands.
Customers – even the most enthusiastic, brand-loyal customers – will only tolerate poor service for so long before they become ex-customers, and often enthusiastic ex-customers at that, willing to tell anyone with an eardrum about their inglorious experience.
All it takes is a long line at checkout, a disengaged salesperson, or a stick-to-the-rules-at-all-costs mentality for a customer to abandon your business and head for the exit. Knowing what compels customers to walk away will prepare your staff to never commit these blunders.
We put together the 5 things businesses should never do. Top on a customers’ “I’m-out-of-here” list:
People love to take their place at the bowling alley, batting cage, shooting or driving range. That’s a fun way to line up. What isn’t fun is waiting in a queue for your turn to bowl, swing, shoot, or play – or even stuck in a waiting area until your number is called.
People don’t usually show up to auto parts and services locations in the best of moods. Cars are absolutely indispensable to most American lives, so a car in need of parts, repairs, or servicing can put a serious strain on its owner. Not surprisingly, most consumers waiting for a smog check, oil change, or tire replacement would like their needs met with minimal time spent. A customer who drives to the local oil change station and sees a long line or full waiting room is likely to drive off and take his or her business elsewhere. No one likes waiting in line, after all.
The countdown is on. Black Friday's marketing plan is launched and businesses are lacing up their cleats, preparing for their Super Bowl. And they best be in top condition: the National Retail Federation expects retail sales this November and December to increase a solid 3.7%, to $630 billion, a significant leap from the average yearly increase of 2.5% over the last decade.
Many of us enjoyed an extra hour’s sleep this past Sunday, November 6th, thanks to Daylight Savings Time (DST). The practice of setting clocks back in the fall and moving them forward every spring to maximize evening daylight has its defenders and detractors, but nobody can deny the feel-good perk to “fall back” an hour once a year to sleep, play, read, finish projects, or go shopping.
Now imagine that you had an extra hour every day – imagine saving not one but dozens of hours a year. In fact, you can! That’s because all of us waste hours a year waiting in line. That’s useless, inefficient, frustrating time that we’ll never get back. By avoiding lines at the hospital, DMV, airports, and other places where people are forced to stand around, you can reclaim wasted hours every day. That’s where mobile queuing technology can play a key role in saving time.
David Maister authored a brilliant article entitled, “The Psychology of Waiting Lines,” identifying eight anxiety-inducing reasons why people loathe waiting in line.
It’s fair to assume that we can ALL relate that waiting is the hardest part:
In our latest webinar, CEO Alex Bäcker unveiled the top 4 predictions for 2016. More than 85% of our attendees found the presentation insightful! In case you missed it, watch the recording here:
For Apple fans anticipating the new iPhone 6S, the wait is finally over.
Or is it... ?
Queuing for the Apple device du jour is a notorious tradition. And since its debut last week, lines around the world to purchase the iPhone 6S could virtually wrap... around the world.
In Sydney, Australia, one enterprising woman sent a robot to do her bidding so she wouldn't have to wait overnight, sleeping on a sidewalk in front of the Apple Store with thousands of others.
But in an age of thriving technology, does it make sense to wait in line several hours, if not overnight, for the most high-tech phone available on the planet?
For many years I worked in retail and although it is exciting, it's almost like live TV: it leaves little room for errors. In fact, one of the key factors is to resolve any possible incident immediately and minimize the impact on the client.
Mobile queuing solutions allow customers to avoid physical lines and get on with their lives so they can take care of other errands while checking on their place in “line” via updates using their smart phones on the go. Implementing these solutions leads to time saved not only for customers, but for staff.
On average Brits will wait just under six minutes in a shop queue before they walk out. That's according to a survey conducted as part of an investigation by Omnico into the effect of queues on retailers' businesses. The survey also found that over half (56%) of Britons would be less likely to return to a store if they'd had a bad queuing experience, with men more likely than women to hold a bad queuing experience against a store (58% versus 55% respectively).
Black Friday has a lot of appeal to millions of people around the U.S. not just because of the great deals, but also because it gets them in the holiday spirit. For some families, it kicks off their holiday festivities to get started on the first official day of Christmas shopping. However, that giddy feeling of waking up early or staying up really late to get a cheap TV is often washed away by the look of the line to check out.
Check out this very well-done video explaining how QLess is saving families at Washington Square Mall this year from having to stand in line to see Santa.
For any parent, seeing your young child meet Santa, sit on his lap and share her Christmas wish list is a time-honored tradition. Extending the holiday shopping season means there are more opportunities for the kids to see Santa, and more locations to do so as well. At the same time, the outfits have gotten more high-tech and opportunistic. Now, there are professionally-taken photographs and packages that can be ordered, limitations on personal camera use, and even candy and hot chocolate buying opportunities in some high-end malls. And unfortunately, most have one thing in common beyond the jolly man with long white beard: the wait in line. Kids don't want to wait. Adults don't want to wait. Frankly, we'd rather be spending money at other stores than spend it standing among crying toddlers. Luckily, there are now several malls where Santa uses QLess to virtually manage long lines, so we as parents don't have to stand in them!
The Thanksgiving holiday means retail deals like no other and lines like no other. While not all result in pepper spray to get ahead, most involve spending far more time waiting line than most can or care to stomach. A father and son team in Flagstaff, AZ spent over 30 hours waiting for color coded vouchers at Best Buy. Their entire turkey day was turkey-less. What if you could have your turkey and eat it too? Well...with QLess you can. Retailers can manage lines virtually so consumers get what they want in an orderly, pepper spray-free environment, so they can spend time with friends and family instead of wasting it in line.
This year it is starting earlier than ever, but so far, the results have been largely the same. Long lines and big headaches. Every year we hear the stories of people camping out, going sleep deprived - and even getting downright nasty (taking cues from the honey badger). Luckily, Walmart and other retailers have started early so you can experience the frustration earlier than ever. Get a glimpse of some interesting tips here. And if you're searching for luxury timepiece for someone on your list, the Tourneau store in NYC uses QLess so you won't have to wait in line. Have you got an early Black Friday experience to share? Let us know.
You'd think that a brand as innovative as Apple would leverage its own technological and process design assets to take the pain of out its product release. And professional queuers? Check out this article and video to see the chaos in action. There's certainly a much more affordable and customer-friendly way to solve this challenge - QLess.
QLess has some new fans over at In Line Waiting, a blog where, in their words, "you can read and share funny stories and practical tips on ridiculously long lines and the bizarre people and situations that go hand-in-hand with them." The staff there discovered QLess last month, and then invited us to write a guest post on their site. So head over to read Alex's post there: Santa Goes QLess, Restores Mom's Sanity to find out all about how QLess and Santa are teaming up this holiday season to give the gift of time back to otherwise-weary kids and parents, and the gift of more customers and more revenue to the photography company, mall management, and our sponsor, AT&T.
Will Ross has posted an elegant and disturbing poem about waiting for service at the Sprint store at 72nd and Dodge in Omaha, Nebraska. He doesn't indicate how long his wait actually was, other than noting that he didn't start taking notes and working on his poem until he'd been waiting for 35 minutes.
Just found this gem in a recent discussion on reddit.com:
"I worked at Target in high school, and in the 'training' before we started, they had about 15 new hires in a conference room, and they had us stand up and told us to sit down once we thought 1 minute had elapsed. They told us not to count though, but just to sit down when it felt like a minute. I swear, this one woman sat down after 15-20 seconds. Almost everyone had sat down, and it was down to just me and one other person, and they sat down, and then I felt awkward standing by myself and so I waited a bit and sat down. Turns out I sat down at like 48 seconds. The point was to show how people think things last longer in situations where they are waiting."
"We have seen the efficiency it creates, & more satisfied customers. We liked it a lot because it gives us the option to see what customers are there & service them accordingly. Everybody was excited. Every store should have QLess". -Ali Faraz, VP, Sprint stores
Ali's next move? He asked to expand QLess deployment to every one of his stores.
Nespresso, the fastest growing division of Nestle, the world´s largest food and wellness company, launched QLess, increasing the % of customers who show up for service among those waiting more than 10 minutes by 64%:
Brick-and-mortar retailers and online sellers alike are noticing an increase in abandoned shopping carts and cold feet at checkout lines. For physical shops, this means more work putting things back on the shelves.
A Walmart employee was tragically trampled to death on Black Friday by anxious shoppers standing in line to enter the store. The employee, a 34-year-old man, suffered "an undetermined death" when a "throng of shoppers ... physically broke down the doors, knocking him to the ground." Might have been different if the lines had been absent and QLess had summoned customers to enter one at a time using the QLess touchscreen-activated digital turnstiles. With QLess, nobody can cut the line, and so the rush is replaced by an orderly flow.--Alex
A new study conducted on behalf of Capital One finds that, when faced with a long checkout line, 24% of consumers say that they abandon their purchases, and walk out of the store. Capital One is trying to promote their PayPass product, to reduce the transaction time at checkout. But rather than hurrying customers through the checkout process, why not let them continue shopping while they're waiting to checkout, instead of standing in an infuriating line?