IMC Newsdesk

Sainsbury’s tests virtual queuing app

  • August 6, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is trialling a virtual queuing system to test whether the technology can help its customers stay safe, save time and shop conveniently in stores.
The trial, which is running on the UFirst app, is live in five stores and is the first time this technology has been tested in the UK.
The trial will run until mid-August and test how customers respond, as well as how it helps staff manage queues and the flow of customers in and out of stores. It will also help Sainsbury’s respond quickly should a local lockdown need to be implemented at short notice or scaled up if government guidance changes.
Sainsbury’s has partnered with UFirst to test the app with customers shopping at the Uxbridge, Pimlico, Dome Roundabout in Watford, Leicester North and Newham Royal Wharf stores. Customers can download the app on their smartphone and join a virtual queue without needing to wait physically in line at the store. They can then monitor their position in the queue from the comfort of their car, home or local coffee shop and they will be notified when they are at the front.
If a customer does not have a smartphone, staff can add the customer to the queue.
To offer more ways to shop quickly, conveniently and safely in stores, Sainsbury’s is also rolling out SmartShop Mobile Pay to more of its convenience stores, offering till-free and contactless shopping. Customers can use their smartphones to scan their shopping, pack it and track what they are spending as they go, then pay for it through the app, without needing to go to a physical till. The app is live in more than 100 Sainsbury’s Locals and the retailer is continuing to rollout the technology to more convenience stores.
Sainsbury’s was the first UK supermarket to trial till-free shopping in 2018 and the first to experiment with a totally till-free store in 2019. The move also follows the rollout of SmartShop in all Sainsbury’s supermarkets. Customers can scan and pack products as they go on either the handsets provided or their own smartphone. At the end of their shop, they can save time by skipping the main tills and paying at a designated till point.
SmartShop now accounts for more than half of sales in some supermarkets and Sainsbury’s is serving over one million customers a week through the app.
“We’re always on the lookout for how we can make our customers lives easier using technology,” said Nigel Blunt, director of ecommerce at Sainsbury’s. “We’re trialling a virtual queuing system which enables shoppers to hold their place in the queue using their smartphone and we will be listening closely to feedback from our customers and colleagues. We’re also rolling out SmartShop Mobile Pay to even more convenience stores, offering customers fast and contactless shopping that will help them get in and out of the store even quicker.”