Hello lovely WalkUps! So to set the scene a little bit, we’re currently finishing up week 1 of London’s second lockdown, we’ve got ourselves another new joiner whoop whoop and we’re putting our heads down to bring you an awesome REFRESH of the WalkUp app. Because who doesn’t like to start the year lookin’ their best selves?!
As you guys know, our mission is to help diners get a table anytime, anywhere. We want you guys to be able to get a table at your fave restaurant without having to pre plan, book ahead and rely on yourself being super organised (but also rely on the restaurant hopefully having space).
However, this has been no ordinary year...
Back in March when the first lockdown of Covid happened, Value Retail (The company behind Bicester Village and 10 other award-winning international shopping villages) contacted us about helping manage the queues to their retail sites. We always want to help, so we hit the drawing board!
First up, our whole product is tailored to managing queues for restaurants - from simple things like copy and assets, to more complex things like queue position being based on party size. All of this would have to change to make it work for retailers. That’s a lot of work!
The other important question was is this something we should do? Would it diverge from our path of seating a guest anytime, anywhere?
Most importantly, would we be ABLE to help? We’d never done retail queue management, it’s a huge commitment and we needed to make sure we didn’t lose focus on our mission!
After looking into the problems that needed solving, we came to the conclusion that there were enough crossover’s between retail and restaurant queue management that we could help Value Retail and the majority of builds and changes to the system could be later repurposed to help restaurants too!
We said yes, and we got to work.
Minimising contact between client and host was an absolute priority. As our WalkUp App is solely for diners looking to either Join the virtual queue or Eat Now, shopping clients didn’t have a way of joining the virtual queue themselves without speaking to a host. Enter QR codes 😈
This enabled customers to scan a code without having to stand in close proximity to a host to provide their details to join the queue. Of course as a fallback it was still possible to add customers via the system manually. For the first time in Value Retail villages, clients could now go up to the door of the store they want to shop at, if they’re full they can open up the cameras on their phone, scan the code, add in their details and head off. Waiting to get notified when their space is available.
Instead of giving clients wait times on their queue positions we decided to just display party sizes and queue positions on the weblink for retail sites. As clients could wander around the villages and join queues to multiple stores, we felt that keeping the information limited to queue position was simple yet effective for the shopping experience.
Value Retail has shopping villages all around the world - including Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and Germany. WalkUp would need to be set up to handle translations for these villages to provide customers with a clear and usable product. On top of that we’d need to manage timezones, the system would need to know when to close the stores to stop customers from joining queues at the right time! This was a huge amount of work for the team but it now puts us in a position to be able to offer a better service to our international restaurants that are using WalkUp 🤩
A few tweaks were necessary for the RMS (what we previously had coined to mean Restaurant Management System which neatly works as a Retail Management System 😉). This included building a ‘ticker’ so that those managing the queue at the door would know at all times how many clients were inside the store where capacity was a concern.
Apart from the above it was then down to the sales team to adapt and navigate the new conversations they’d be having with retailers to make sure that everyone was set up, happy and understood how to run WalkUp!
It’s been several months since we completed the rollout and we’re immensely proud to be helping brands all across Europe manage their demand and providing a fantastic customer experience that not only keeps them safe, but allows them to make the most of their time.
A lot of the brands we now work with had queues before COVID, so through the difficulties that lockdown presented we’re now able to provide a solution to retailers to help them manage their demand in the future.
It’s been a super fun journey working with retailers and we’re thrilled to take a step back, look at WalkUp and see how she’s grown! We now have our eyes firmly fixed on 2021, improving the app, bringing you more features to get you into restaurants and helping the hospitality industry bounce back.
If you have any ideas or want to reach out with a friendly hello you can do that by emailing us at [email protected]