In June 2019, Ellis Heighes had an idea for a quick and easy purchasing platform without the need to download an app. An idea that started with the principle of scanning a QR code to enable the purchase of a product quickly and easily for the consumer was developed and tested over the following months, and Queuepay was ready to launch in February 2020. A few weeks later covid-19 hit the UK.
“I had no idea what the future was going to be. Like many others I didn’t know whether the lockdown would be for weeks or months, and how that would impact on the market”, remembers Ellis, “but what was clear was that continuing with the planned marketing and product launch had to be put on hold”.
Living in rural Suffolk, Ellis had many local independent businesses around him, all trying to figure out how to operate safely during covid. Local greengrocers, butchers, and cake shops were all allowed to trade but needed to find a safe and easy way to do so. Ellis recognised that most did not have a website and that it was not the time to invest in one when time and funds were short. “Speaking to local traders, it became clear that they weren’t coping with the demand of pre-ordering and either delivering or having agreed collection times,” said Ellis “Most had a Facebook page and were suddenly inundated with large numbers of messages or posts placing orders. They didn’t have the systems or staff to deal with it.” A supporter of shopping locally, Ellis was keen to help and realised that Queuepay could easily be adapted to link in with Facebook. “Facebook has an action button that could be used to access the Queuepay platform allowing orders to be requested, deliveries scheduled and payment paid. It made it easy for the consumer as well as the retailer,” explained Ellis, “In simple terms, whilst it was originally designed to be based on scanning a QR code, it could easily be adapted to work by just a click of a button on a Facebook page”.
Ellis started working with a local greengrocer and went on to support a café providing takeaway afternoon teas, a brewery to sell stocks of beer and many more. “I want these businesses to still be around in 5, 10 years’ time,” says Ellis, “but they need to offer the convenience of their larger competitors and make it easy for the consumer. Being able to place an order, confirm a slot and pay by clicking a button on a Facebook page is ideal.”
During the lockdown, Queuepay has allowed local retailers to process over 5000 orders, helping many retailers and customers during a difficult time: a service that Ellis introduced at no charge. He felt he could afford to help others, and in return has gained invaluable feedback and is confident that he has a solid platform to offer. He says that the satisfaction of seeing a piece of software that he has built working well, and achieving such results, made it worthwhile.
Now lockdown is easing, Ellis is concentrating back on the original concept, but again with adaptation. “With hospitality re-opening, we can refocus back on QR ordering by tailoring our offer to provide a table ordering service”, says Ellis.
Recognising the need to maintain social distancing, having a system that allows table-ordering, payment, and registering of details is a fantastic option. “Our Queuepay system allows you to sit at a table, and scan a QR code to access the food and drink menu. You can immediately place your order, pay and enter your details for covid tracing purposes. The staff read the information at a tablet at the bar, and deliver straight to your table,” explains Ellis. “Queuepay doesn’t require the consumer to download an app, which can drain your mobile battery and take up memory. It’s web-based which makes it much easier for the customer.”
Being flexible and adapting product and marketing to suit demand, not once, but twice, during this period, has put Queuepay in a good position for the future. They have been able to test the software, expand the use and gain feedback in robust case studies. “This period has been a shake-up for everyone. All generations have been forced to embrace technology, and companies have looked to tech to support them in being safe and efficient with different approaches to interacting with customers,” notes Ellis. “I believe these changes are here to stay and look forward to helping other businesses continue to operate in an easy, customer-focused way.”