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The Kmart Queue Question | Are We Social Distancing Online?
Last week, Kmart trialled a queue to slowly permit people onto its site as a means for crowd control. So, did it work, and should other e-commerce sites follow? Are we now social distancing via online shopping?
Throughout Australia, thousands of stores are rapidly closing their doors and ‘hibernating’ until the outbreak subsides. For multichannel companies such as Target, Kmart and Bunnings, the reliance on e-commerce is more significant than ever.
Last week, Kmart trialled its new initiative of queueing to get into the website. While the wait was only a few minutes for some, others were told to enter their email address to be notified of when they were eligible to enter the site.
The virtual queuing system blocked the user from entering the site for an allotted period – it felt as if social distancing had made its way online.
While it acts as a means of crowd control, it wasn’t well-received by many Australian shoppers on Friday night, who turned to Twitter to share their disdain.
That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, KMART. pic.twitter.com/lYjbB0WM79
— Wilko (@thewilkoshow) April 5, 2020
Hey @Kmart_Australia, Protip: Stop being penny pinchers & actually pay for some additional bandwidth to your website. Adding this BS to your home page will ensure that people will NEVER buy from your website or store again. I know I’m gonna be one of them. pic.twitter.com/m63B3Ya6He
— MafiaboysWorld (@mafiaboysworld) April 3, 2020
While it’s not unusual for sites to enable virtual queuing into sites, typically it’s most popular with ticket purchase sites, not retailers. So, should Australian retailers take this step into their next strategy?
In the strictest terms, it is a useful way to reduce the traffic on a site to balance the load, but it doesn’t come without its faults. As previously mentioned, this is an accessible format for ticketing websites, which grant access to a certain amount of people not to overflow the traffic and have the site crash.
In Europe, this trick is being used effectively as retailers close around the world. It’s a good way to balance the weight of online traffic, but it means that the retailer will get some backlash in the early days of trialling the method.
“We have begun a process of improving systems so customers can have minimal interruptions during high peak periods… to ensure our customers have a fair and seamless shopping experience,” said a Kmart spokesperson.
“We recognise that this is a new temporary way of online shopping at Kmart to help manage the additional traffic, and so we wish to thank our customers for their understanding and feedback.”
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