QueueEXP: Reinventing the Covid-19 Retail Queue


In a rush to manage social distancing and meter the number of guests entering, many retailers have formulated makeshift corrals that bring the worst part of retail – waiting in line – to both the beginning and end of the experience. “Drive by any big box, grocery or home improvement store at key times and you are likely to see dozens, if not hundreds of guests waiting outside,” says Jim Cusson, president of Theory House. “Most of these lines are uninspiring at best and uncomfortable at worst. And the discomfort will only get exasperated as we head into the heat of summer.”

Recognizing this industry challenge, Theory House began studying the concepts of queue management from the theme park industry. The agency then enlisted the talents of theme park designer Mark Gildersleeve to develop a novel service offering, QueueEXP, that transforms a potentially negative experience into one that is engaging and educational.

“Queue lines at the best theme parks are as much a part of the experience as the attraction itself,” says Gildersleeve. “QueueEXP provides a fun and enjoyable queue line experience by cleverly immersing the customer in the store’s brands while preparing them for a more efficient shopping experience.” 

Theory House and Gildersleeeve developed a conceptual QueueEXP for a national home improvement retailer. Guests make their way through a curving modular shade structure that incorporates water misters, cooling fans and educational audio. Waiting among whimsical, larger-than-life products and tools is a bold way for brands to advertise their products in a uniquely experiential way.” 

“We see QueueEXP as an opportunity for retailers to differentiate in the marketplace and deliver a better guest experience that brings unique aspects of their brand to life for customers,” says Cusson. “There is also an opportunity to transform the expense of managing this infrastructure into a revenue stream by offering sponsorship opportunities for brands to engage directly with guests as they wait in line.” More information about QueueEXP can be found at www.theoryhouse.com

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