Virtual Queuing: What You Need to Know

Virtual Queuing: What You Need to Know

What do Disneyland and your local Kmart have in common? Perhaps not the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, but they do share an interest in virtual queuing systems.

Back in 1999, the Walt Disney Company had the brilliant idea of implementing virtual queue technology to reduce the wait time for families visiting their resorts and theme parks. It also gave their guests the time and freedom to enjoy themselves on their Disney holiday rather than waiting in line for roller-coaster rides.

This modern solution not only handled a large volume of customers; it also increased profits. As a result, it sparked interest among other amusement parks that followed in their footsteps, and, at the same time, various other industries started to develop virtual queuing solutions.

What Is Virtual Queue Management? How Does It Work?

Virtual queuing is one of many digital tools that assist companies in providing better and faster services to their customers. It is based on the simple idea that customers should not have to wait in a physical line for a service. They can, instead, go about their day and arrive at the service facility at their scheduled time.

Because most retail and hospitality organisations have only recently begun using virtual queuing solutions, there is still much to learn and improve.

Virtual Queue Examples

Virtual queuing systems come in many shapes and sizes, as they are based on traditional queues.

The following are some examples of virtual queues you may encounter:

➤ First-In, First-Out (FIFO) Virtual Queues

They are based on the linear first-come, first-served principle. Most people agree it’s the fairest way to manage a queue.

What would a simple scenario entail?

Imagine it’s the week before the start of the school year, and you go shopping for school supplies with your children.

As you might expect, the store will be crowded with parents and children interested in the “Back to School” deals. However, when you arrive at the department store, you may be able to scan a QR code that allows you to save your place in a virtual queue. If you like, you can take your kids to eat ice cream while the store sends you text message updates.

➤ Scheduled Virtual Queues

A scheduled virtual queue is one in which a business allows customers to book appointments through an online calendar application.

This is a great feature to implement because clients don’t rely on a strict schedule to interact with your company.

➤ Hybrid Queues

A hybrid queue could be created, for example, when you go to a local hardware store to rent a power tool in order to install some accessories on your bathroom walls.

You can start by scheduling a call with customer service and providing them with the information they need for equipment rental. This way, you don’t have to wait for someone to help you at the shop. You could even use an online payment method to save more time.

If the rental feature is rarely used at that particular store, an additional virtual queue is unlikely to be implemented. As a result, you will only have to wait a short time in line to receive your power tool.

➤ Fully Virtual Queues

They typically employ software that combines several features to provide a complete shopping experience:

  • Customers can Request a Demo on the store’s platform;
  • Customers can track their progress in the queue through updates;
  • Clients can also receive personalised assistance based on a form they may have filled out.

Platforms or applications are most successful when they take into account various queuing scenarios that the staff and customers may encounter.

Storeplay IQ is our own appointment booking and queue management platform that can be successfully used in all the scenarios above. Moreover, it can create priority queues: if customers book their appointments using our online platform, they have the option to jump to the front of the line upon arrival. Isn't that terrific?

Virtual Queuing Solutions in Retail and Hospitality

Both large and small businesses can benefit from virtual queuing, transforming even a simple shopping experience into a premium one.

What is Virtual Queue Management Like for Retailers?

When it comes to retail businesses, virtual queuing offers many perks and benefits, and some of them are highlighted in the examples above.

For one, virtual queuing software can collect valuable data and insight into consumer behaviour and preferences.

As long as businesses are transparent about the personal information they gather, most consumers are willing to share it in exchange for a more personalised experience.

Another feature that retailers can incorporate is the click-and-collect service or the more complex ‘buy online, pick-up in store’ strategy. This is especially useful for restaurants and other hospitality sectors as well.

What About the Hospitality Industry?

There is no doubt that a well-designed virtual queue system, just as it does in retail, can assist restaurant and hotel managers in numerous ways.

As an example, for restaurants it’s relatively simple to put the gathered customer data to good use and incentivise consumers to return to your venue.

Also, waiting for an open table would no longer be an inconvenience, as guests can use a virtual queue platform to book a table and monitor their position in the queue.

Organising customer flow in this manner also ensures a less stressful environment among the staff, as they will not have to accommodate a large crowd of people at once.

A Success Story: Accent Group’s Brand “The Athlete’s Foot”

The Athlete’s Foot (TAF), a leading Australian athletic footwear brand, has been using Storeplay IQ’s virtual queuing platform in its stores since 2020. They had chosen it as a solution to handle social distancing and assist clients on a one-to-one basis.

They were able to use Storeplay IQ’s platform to:

  • Provide in-store assistance through online appointment booking;
  • Assist employees in learning about their customers’ needs to make personalised offers;
  • Avoid customer loss when their stores were at capacity;
  • Allow customers to join virtual queues by scanning QR codes printed on storefront posters;
  • Organise public holiday bookings easier thanks to a calendar management feature.

Best Practices in Virtual Queuing

To make the most of virtual queuing systems, we encourage you to consider the following suggestions:

  1. Inform your team thoroughly about the virtual queuing system you employ.
    Implementing new technology can seem daunting at times, but you can avoid this by presenting the solution in a way that empowers and motivates your team.
  2. Aim for a high response rate and keep your customers posted on their progress.
    Not following up with appointments would defeat the purpose of virtual queuing, wouldn’t it?
    However, providing real-time updates and notifications is also important in order to reassure customers that their appointment is being processed.
  3. Use clear and concise instructions to remind your customers of the simple steps they must take to secure a spot in a virtual queue—this includes social media or any other platform where this service is mentioned.
  4. An agile company will pay attention to employee and customer feedback.
    Because virtual queuing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, you would benefit from asking questions like:
    • Is the software user-friendly? Do you need a multilingual user interface?
    • Is it well designed or does it actually lengthen the wait?
    • Are all of the features relevant to your business model?
    • Are the features you’ve chosen valuable to your clients?
    Even Disneyland started using virtual queuing only sporadically in 2022, reserving it for new or high-demand attractions.

Storeplay IQ Can Help You Manage Virtual Queues

We hope that the various examples and best practice tips have given you a better understanding of how virtual queuing is used across retail and hospitality industries.

Overall, we can say that it provides a better shopping experience without charging a premium, and it’s worth giving it a shot to see the results.

If you believe this is the future of shopping and want to learn more about how Storeplay IQ can implement the right virtual queuing system for your company, contact us, and let’s have a chat.