Mobile phone shops to let customers ‘wait in line’ virtually to avoid crowds

BRITS rushing to mobile phone shops for an upgrade or repairs won’t have to queue up outside – they can “wait in line” virtually and get alerted via text.

Stores for firms like EE, BT and O2 are often very small – making it hard to keep customers two metres apart at busy times.

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Mobile phone stores to allow customers to virtually queue in a bid to avoid crowds at busy timesCredit: Hermione Hodgson

It will allow numbers inside to be limited, and staff will hand them “thoroughly cleaned” phones to play with rather than having them on show to pick up.

The move is tipped to be followed by other small stores that need one-to-one contact and handling of goods, such as those selling jewellery or shoes.

So EE and O2 have both come up with similar blueprints that address issues with small shops and those where goods need to be handled.

Playing with the latest Samsung or iPhone ahead of buying is key to phone shops and others that sell gadgets.

Shoppers won’t find displays full of phones or a stand to play with handsets as they might now.

Instead, staff will bring it out after having cleaned it thoroughly.

Like other stores, small phone stores will also have screens in key areas where staff and customers need to talk, optional face masks, hand sanitiser and limited numbers.

EE will offer an SMS booking system for when it is busy.

So if a customer visits when the store is at capacity they will receive a text when the shop is ready to welcome them back

O2 will have a similar system.

We try it out

The Sun’s Daniel Jones visited an EE store in Croydon. Normally, it has 12 members of staff and no limits on customers – meaning on a busy Saturday there might be 20-plus browsing.

Under the new scheme:

  • Arrive and be met by EE staff. They will get your details and agree to text you when someone can assist. Can also book these beforehand online or over telephone.
  • Go away if busy and have a coffee. Get a text and return.
  • Rather than browse phones on stands, a staff member shows them on a tablet – as you both sit either side of a perspex screen.
  • Select which handsets you want to look at and they will bring it for you to play with. It is thoroughly cleaned before and after.
  • If you go for a phone and contract, sign the deal on the tablet using a disposable “stylus” you can take home. A modern day version of the biro in an Argos or bookies’ shop.
 Staff will bring phones out after cleaning them thoroughly instead of having them on display


Staff will bring phones out after cleaning them thoroughly instead of having them on displayCredit: Hermione Hodgson
 Customers will choose their phones from a tablet


Customers will choose their phones from a tabletCredit: Hermione Hodgson
 This tactic will allow numbers of people inside stores to be limited


This tactic will allow numbers of people inside stores to be limitedCredit: Hermione Hodgson


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