Queue-it Has Cornered the Lockdown Waiting Room Market

The Danish startup has found a new market during quarantine: supermarkets and other retailers that are worried their services may collapse under a surge in web traffic.

13.04.2020 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Queue-it
Photo by Queue-it

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, our professional and social lives are switching online.

One element of our former existence that we may not have expected to see online is the wait to get into a shop. That’s to say, a queue.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. Faced with an unprecedented online demand, UK stores like Morrisons, Ocado and B&Q have implemented a system in which users have to wait—sometimes for up to an hour—before their computer or smartphone is given access to the site.

The idea is to protect websites from becoming too slow to use—or worse, collapsing altogether.

Leading this trend is Copenhagen-based startup Queue-it, which specialises in online waiting rooms.


B&Q queue

B&Q’s virtual waiting room, powered by Queue-it


“Poor website performance is a major source of irritation for end-users,” Queue-it writes on its website. “Studies have found that 1 in 3 shoppers will leave a website if forced to wait more than 5 seconds for a page to load. Over 50% of mobile users leave a website that takes over 3 seconds to load.

“Queue-it circumvents painful website crashes by offloading your end-users to an online queue when they exceed your website’s capacity. As space opens up on your website, end-users are let back to your website on a first-in, first-out basis to maintain a fair and orderly user experience.”

Set up in 2010 by Camilla Ley Valentin, Martin Pronk and Niels Henrik Sodemann, the company made a name for working with organisations that sell tickets online. Over 9 years, Queue-it reports that it has operated queues for more than 7 billion users from 172 countries, pulling in 750 corporate clients.

But the COVID-19 crisis has presented an opportunity for a different focus.

In February, as Sodemann tells the Financial Times, Queue-it had been used in Hong Kong for mask sales. So they started reaching out to supermarkets “because we knew there was going to be an issue in the near future.”

The gambit brought in a lot of new business—particularly because European supermarkets were unprepared for how colossal the change was going to be.

“It’s been an explosion into online at the same time as a seismic, colossal increase in usage of the internet,” he adds.

As of April 2020, Queue-it works with a vast range of companies, including Derby County FC, Currys PC World, the University of Copenhagen and Boston Symphony Orchestra.

And the company is raking in the investment, in order to strengthen its presence in Europe and Asia. GRO Capital, a VC which usually invests in Northern European software companies, has just become majority shareholder. Queue-IT writes on Twitter that this funding will be used to “further accelerate our product innovation, grow our partner network, enhance sales & marketing efforts and continue expanding our position in various markets.”

Speaking to the FT, Sodemann concludes that “this crisis, like others, will change many of the ways business is done.”

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