British queuing start-up bets on success of UK high street
Qudini says its services are helping retailers adapt to changing consumer behaviours.
British queuing software firm Qudini is betting on the success of the high street after doubling revenues amid growing demand from retailers and restaurateurs alike.
The company – which helps companies like John Lewis, TopGolf and Honest Burgers manage queues and take bookings for appointments and events – says its services are helping retailers adapt to consumer behaviours that are set to revolutionise, but not obliterate, bricks and mortar stores.
Co-founder and chief executive Imogen Wethered said: “One of the main things that people will do with their time is go shopping.”
The question is how to make the high street “more exciting and more engaging”, she said, while “brands are becoming responsible for building relationships and building experiences as much as just selling goods,” she told the Press Association.
Recent research compiled by the Local Data Company for PwC showed the number of high-street shops facing closure has dropped to its lowest level since 2010.
It pointed to an evolution in the store mix, with tobacconists, beauticians, coffee and ice cream shops opening at the fastest rate, while shoes, charity shops and women’s clothing stores took the biggest hit.
Ms Wethered does not believe the UK is set to see the death of the high street.
“I think it will change hugely and I think it will be very interesting, but I think the store is still the best and most powerful form of marketing present.“
Qudini’s software is being used by the likes of travel agency Thomas Cook to book appointments or manage walk-ins, as well as grocers that are installing kiosks that allow customers to call staff members while fashion retailers are using them in changing rooms so that shoppers can call for assistance or new sizes.
While many retailers are trying to perfect appointment bookings, Ms Wethered says queues are actually resulting in better returns.
“If you have an appointment booked, you’re really only going to get there for your time, so actually having them digitally queue is a really good way to get them out and shopping while they’re waiting, and therefore increasing sales for the retailers.”
She said that retailers are losing about 10% of their footfall due to waiting times in store, with 26% going directly to a competitor.
“They’re literally just throwing all that marketing spend out the window.”
Ms Wethered said Qudini’s services are in as much demand as they are overseas – where queuing is not as ingrained as in British culture – having so far expanded further afield to Australia, India, Spain, the US and Belgium since its launch in 2012.
Qudini has even branched into healthcare, serving the Burrell Street London sexual health clinic and cultural sites like the LA County Museum of Art – with all of its clients paying a subscription fee of around around £50 to £150 per month.
It has helped boost Qudini’s sales – though revenue figures are not publicly disclosed – with it now serving about 2,400 stores globally.
Ms Wethered said the company is now readying itself for the festive period, when traffic for the platform usually spikes by at least 30%, when queues for gift wrapping, turkey and Santa get into gear.
“We’ve done some really great Christmas things like managing the queues for Santa’s grotto. They previously had to wait outside in the cold, and obviously the kids didn’t mind because they were seeing Santa but the parents got really upset, so with our system they could enter their details and go and get a meal while they were waiting.”
Working with start-up accelerators including Telefonica’s Wayra and John Lewis’ JLab, the company has received £40,000 and £20,000 in investment, respectively, and a further £2.4 million from private investors.
Ms Wethered said: “We’re not looking for funding right at the moment, but when we do it will be to grow internationally at a faster pace.”