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Many shoppers buy their holiday gifts online to avoid long lines, but some may still end up waiting in a “virtual queue”this season. Retailers are now implementing these queues as a way to control site traffic and block shopping bots this upcoming Black Friday.
A virtual queue acts just like a line you’d see at checkout. “If you’re shopping online, think of a virtual queue as a line that keeps things fair, neat and orderly so you can get the product you want without worrying about people cutting the line or bots snatching the item,” Niels Henrik Sodemann, CEO and co-founder of Queue-it, told RetailMeNot.
Virtual queues and waiting rooms typically have a countdown or wait time, and customers may be able to choose how they’re notified by the retailer when their wait time is up. RetailMeNot says that shoppers should only expect virtual queues for high-volume sales and popular items, not for everyday purchases.
Walmart is preparing for upcoming holiday sales and recently announced a more streamlined digital shopping experience by implementing virtual queues.
Brock McKeel, SVP, Site Experience at Walmart, explained to RetailMeNot that Walmart has been rolling out virtual queues for select “high-demand items during sales events.” Online shoppers who are signed into their Walmart account will automatically be added to a virtual queue on the page of an eligible item. Shoppers will be asked if they want the retailer to “hold their place” while they continue shopping.
While virtual queues act much like physical queues, there are also special challenges facing online retailers. Not only do online shoppers have to deal with shopping bots, which imitate shopper behaviors and can facilitate online purchases by checking for re-stocks on select items and completing checkouts, but also website crashes caused by traffic surges.
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So if you’re waiting to purchase some of this year’s hottest items online, you may find yourself in a virtual shopping queue instead of waiting outside of a big box store.
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