Are Virtual Lines the Future of Grocery?

New Seasons Market launches app to encourage social distancing
Photograph courtesy of New Seasons Market

New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets, which recently began limiting the number of shoppers in its stores to support social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, rolled out new technology last week that allows shoppers to await their turn to shop in-store in the safety of their cars or outside and away from lines.

The Portland, Ore.-based grocer tested the digital queue technology from partner Waitwhile at a few stores on March 27, and is “hearing good feedback from customers and staff so far on the smooth process and ability to walk away from the entrance while you wait for your turn,” said Julie Teune, senior PR and external communications manager for New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets.

Waitwhile, which has traditionally partnered with restaurants, bars, barbershops and high-end luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton to offer queue-eliminating products that let guests check in to a waitlist either by going through the business’ website or by sending a text from home, is now working with grocery retailers such as New Seasons that want to avoid long lines of shoppers waiting outside its doors.

People spend 1 trillion hours waiting in line every year, says Waitwhile’s website. A daunting proposition in the best of times, today waiting in line without social distancing may be a health hazard.

New Seasons is limiting its stores’ shopper capacity based on the square footage of the store. The grocer is asking that only one person per family or “party” visit the store at a time to help minimize wait times. 



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