Italian app ufirst bring its queue management system to UK retail

Queuing app, ufirst, is launching in the UK ahead of a Covid winter when queues at supermarkets, retailers and other businesses are likely to be a fact of life. The app was trialled at several Sainsbury’s stores in the summer and reduces physical waiting times for customers to a few seconds or minutes at most.

ufirst, developed and headquartered in Italy has appointed as partners, Sean Gogarty and Jat Sahota, former senior executives at Unilever and Sainsbury’s respectively, to manage its UK launch and drive business development. They will do this via RangeFinder, an investment vehicle set up by the pair aimed at supporting ‘technology solutions’ driving growth and margins for retailers and brands.

The retail sector, and grocery in particular, acknowledges that it faces a perfect storm in the months ahead, having to contend with panic buying triggered by the recent announcement of further Covid measures, staff potentially needing to take time off sick, enforcing Covid compliant behaviour among shoppers and Black Friday, then Christmas bringing additional demand.

Moreover, physical stores still account for around 60% of transactions even for grocery retailers with well-developed online offers. And while much of Black Friday trading takes place online, click and collect is preferred by retailers as a means of protecting margins. Getting the in-store experience right is therefore a priority and retailers who can keep their queues moving efficiently will drive profitability and build their brand reputation in the longer term.

ufirst, available via app and the web, allows users to join a single queue or different queues remotely, showing them where they are in each queue, so that they only need to turn up in person when their turn is approaching. It can also be used to check whether a specific time and date to access a service is available and to book.

It works as a digital virtual queue management system that is licensed to client businesses. It can be set up quickly via remote installation online and without any hardware investment.

Jat Sahota says: “Retailers have done a great job of implementing Covid-compliant measures inside their stores, but few have properly thought through how to manage queues in the cold, wet months ahead. Best in class queue management will be a vital part of the customer experience. A business that can organise its queues efficiently will win in the safety stakes and stand to gain market share in the difficult times ahead.”

Matteo Lentini, ufirst managing director adds: “During the early days of the pandemic, Italy was the first European country to learn the hard way, that a highly organised approach to queuing was the only way to ensure that people got the essential goods they needed, safely. Our technology helped the Italian people to do this, eliminating the need for lengthy queues where social distancing can be difficult. I am very proud that we played our part in helping the fight against Covid-19.

“We are excited to be bringing our technology and experience to the UK, a key market in our international expansion strategy and one that is highly receptive to innovative products like ours. We look forward to bringing a better customer experience to UK business and consumers.”

During the pandemic, ufirst helped more than 2 million Italians do their grocery shopping. It is used across many public and private settings in Italy including local government, universities, and hospitals/healthcare settings as well as by IKEA, McDonald's, Italian supermarket Esselunga, mobile operators TIM and Wind3 and banks including Unicredit and BNL BNP Paribas.

ENDS

For further information contact

Jo Sensini, Velvet PR – 07710 316759 – jo@velvetpr.biz

Note to editors

ufirst - is an innovative technology platform founded in Italy in 2016, available via app and web, initially designed to improve access to busy city services, both public and private, such as museums, attractions, airports and tourist destinations, and eliminate the need for people to queue. It supports its business users in their digital transformation journey by improving internal work flows and providing a better user experience.

As of June 2020, it counted 2.5 million users, and saw a 300% increase in new users in Q2. It has an aggregate network of over 1500 affiliated partners, active in Italy, the UK Brazil, Ecuador and the USA and more than 1,500 venues and destinations on the platform.

Sean Gogarty - spent over twenty years in marketing and brand development, mostly at Unilever where he is credited with the global turnaround of household cleaning which remains one of Unilever’s best performing divisions. Having always promised himself an entrepreneurial spell in his career Sean left Unilever at the beginning of 2016 to found a number of businesses including Rangefinder – the common theme to all of Sean’s work is an obsession with customers and consumers and a belief that pretty much everything can be improved! (including himself!)

Jat Sahota - has over 25 years’ experience in a variety of senior commercial roles across retail and retail property. He has worked for major clothing, general merchandise and food retailers, most recently at Sainbsury’s. During his 10 years with Sainsbury he was involved in a number of diverse initiatives such as leading the move to 100% Fair Trade bananas, negotiating and then leading the company’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and latterly the sale of the Sainsbury’s Pharmacy business to Lloyd’s. After having decided to leave corporate life Jat is now an executive coach, consultant and is involved in some exciting new companies, all with a focus on making life simpler for consumers and retailers alike.


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