Coronavirus: Waitrose and John Lewis introduce virtual queuing system

Lily Canter
·2 mins read
It is hoped the scheme will encourage customers, reluctant to wait in bad weather, to return to in-store shopping. Photo: Getty
It is hoped the scheme will encourage customers, reluctant to wait in bad weather, to return to in-store shopping. Photo: Getty

Waitrose and John Lewis are launching a digital queuing system across 10 stores next week to help shoppers avoid long waits.

The move follows Sainsbury's who began trialling a virtual system in five UK stores at the beginning of August.

From Monday customers at the selected shops will be able to book a timed slot by entering a virtual queue on their phone. This will operate by sending a code via text message or a scanned QR code.

Shoppers can then wait in their car or at another shop until they receive a text message telling them their slot is available.

It is hoped the scheme will encourage customers, reluctant to wait in bad weather, to return to in-store shopping.

The retailer has seen profits crash in recent years from £452m ($591.6m) in 2016 to £146m in the year to January.

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The pandemic has hit the company hard with John Lewis permanently closing eight stores and cutting 1,300 jobs in a bid to save £435m. A further 14,000 staff were placed on furlough during lockdown.

Boss Dame Sharon White, who took a 20% pay cut during the three months of lockdown, has warned that sales could fall by a third this year, according to the Daily Mail.

The company has announced plans to reinvent the department store by expanding into horticulture and garden products. It also aims to develop its online offering which saw sales rise from 40% to 60% during the pandemic.

Peter Cross, a director at Waitrose supermarket, told the Mail: “This brand new trial will let you wait for your turn in line from the comfort of your car, ensuring that everyone can continue to shop safely and seamlessly.”

The same system will be applied to individual departments in John Lewis using an app, called Qudini.

It will also allow staff to track the number of customers in a shop, so they do not become overcrowded.