Waitwhile manages crowds and drives sales at Kidsignments
Event & Retail
Started by Jeri Lynn Cunningham in 1994 in a 2-car garage in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, Kidsignments has grown to be one of the largest consignment events in the US, occupying two buildings totaling over 30,000 square feet. The semi-annual sale offers high-quality, gently used items for infants, children, and teens, attracting 1500 sellers and an estimated 10K shoppers for each event.
Kidsignments is held twice a year over the course of a single week. Its immense popularity led to hours-long lines of shoppers toting wheeled garbage cans to shop the bargains on offer from 1500 different vendors. This caused congested queues that snaked through both of Kidsignments’ buildings at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, creating safety hazards, traffic jams, and frustratingly long waits.
The coronavirus pandemic further exacerbated this issue. Due to local public health measures, Kidsignments needed to limit the number of people at their event at one time and institute social distancing throughout. For an event known to be packed, this was a serious challenge.
Kidsignments organizer Jeri Lynn Cunningham initially thought she’d only use Waitwhile to manage checkout queues, but she soon realized that the platform could help streamline flow for many aspects of the event, including intake, capacity management, staff management, and event wrap-up.
- Intake. Organizing over a thousand sellers and tens of thousands of items is no easy task. To avoid long waits for sellers to drop off their items, Kidsignments schedules appointments over a 3-day period. When sellers arrive on-site for their booking, they can simply click a Waitwhile link in their confirmation email or scan a QR code to alert Kidsignments’ staff and join the virtual queue to be seen.
- Capacity Management. It’s not unusual for people to camp out ahead of the event and even partake in some adult picnicking – the deals really are that good! But during the height of the pandemic, building occupancy limits were reduced and strongly enforced. With Waitwhile, Kidsignments was able to keep a real-time tally of the number of shoppers entering and exiting. Once max capacity was reached, Waitwhile automatically prompted visitors to join the virtual waitlist.
- Customer Flow & Queue Management. When shoppers arrive at Kidsignments, they’re now met with laminated instructions and a QR code at the entryway. Once they check-in via Waitwhile with their personal devices, they get a confirmation via SMS and email with a link to a floor map and a separate link to click once they are ready to check out. Rather than waiting in a physical queue, shoppers simply click a link to join a virtual checkout queue, giving them the freedom to continue browsing while they wait for their turn. No more lines snaking around the event.
- Lunch. Kidsignments provides homemade meals for their “helpers” – staff who enjoy early access to the event. With Waitwhile, helpers can check-in for lunch at the start of their shift and then get a text alert when it’s time to eat. On the backend, this allows Kidsignments to stagger service times, avoid congestion, and prioritize VIPs like pregnant women.
- Staff Management. During slower times when all checkout queues are not needed, some helpers are reassigned to the sales floor to help customers and organize inventory. Helpers scan a QR code with their phones to enter the Waitwhile system, which lets Kidsignments staff keep track of who is on the sales floor and to send an SMS alert to summon helpers back to the checkout area when it gets busier.
- Event Wrap-up. At the end of each sale, sellers have the opportunity to come pick up their unsold items. With 1500 sellers coming in a 7-hour window, things can get chaotic quickly. Waitwhile enables Kidsignments to provide its sellers with a “pick-up pass” that has a QR code to join a curbside pickup queue upon arrival. Rather than waiting in a physical queue, sellers can relax in the comfort of their vehicles. When the staff inside is alerted of an arrival, they can pull all of the seller’s remaining items and then invite the seller inside via SMS once everything is ready.
Allow customers to get in line virtually and wait from anywhere.
Keep an open line of communication and notify customers when it’s their turn.
Allow people to wait in their car and be notified at every step of the process.
Track entrances and automatically prompt visitors to join a virtual waitlist when you’re full.
Optimize resource and staffing allocation ahead of peak hours.
Kidsignments organizer Jeri Lynn Cunningham reports that shoppers who have been attending the sale for years and are used to long waits in lines love the tech-driven approach.
Cunningham said that in addition to bringing efficiency to virtually all aspects of the event, she’s also noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of items each of the sellers sells. She credits this to the flexibility Waitwhile offers her shoppers: without the need to stand in a mind-numbing physical queue, shoppers have the freedom to continue browsing (and shopping) while they wait to check out.
Waitwhile’s simplicity has also been of immense value. Because Kidsignments is a semi-annual pop-up event, there’s a large number of new helpers to train every time.
“A pop-up event like ours, we’re not common. Every six months we kind of have to learn, or relearn [Waitwhile], again,” said Cunningham. “To be able to learn and use this tool in the short amount of time we have and to have it effectively used and get rave reviews from our sellers and our shoppers and our helpers – I mean, that speaks volumes.”
“I just love Waitwhile. I love all the capabilities. It’s line busting at its best.”
Jeri Lynn Cunningham