Queue-it eyes Asia expansion amid online sales boom

February 10, 2020 15:51
With Queue-it's "virtual waiting room" solution, excess end-users are offloaded to a customizable queue page, and they return in a first-come, first-served order. Photo: Queue-it

(Second of a two-part series)

"Virtual waiting room" technology firm Queue-it, launched in 2010 in Copenhagen, Denmark, provides a first-in, first-out online waiting system for transactional websites, which is delivered to customers through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

So far, over 7 billion end-users have passed through its virtual waiting room platform, according to the company.

Its corporate customers include hundreds of top organizations in the e-commerce, ticketing, education and public sectors, such as Hong Kong retailers ParknShop, Watsons, and Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways, as well as British retailing brand Harvey Nichols, American sportswear retailer Fabletics, and ticket seller Ticketmaster.

In an interview with EJ Insight, Queue-it’s co-founder and CEO Niels Henrik Sodemann disclosed the firm's ambition to expand in Asia, leveraging the recent online shopping boom amid mounting concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

EJ Insight: What are enterprises’ typically critical concerns and how would Queue-it address those?

Sodemann: The concerns depend on the industry. Our customers in the ticketing industry usually understand and appreciate our concept immediately, whereas e-commerce customers can be more skeptical. We often hear a gut-reaction against putting visitors into a virtual waiting room. But besides the obvious benefit of keeping the website or app from crashing, there are secondary benefits many overlook. For example, the psychology on social proof shows that seeing large groups of other people endorsing a product by waiting in line encourages others to join in.

Think of a restaurant with a line out the door, or a completely empty one. Which would you think is better? When shoppers find themselves in an online queue, they see the number of others accessing the same website, playing into the same psychology. We’ve also seen our customers’ conversion rates increase, as those who wait in line are more certain to buy, because they invested their precious time in the wait. This often more than offsets the reduction in visitors (assuming the site could handle them without crashing).

Q: How long would it take for online retailers to introduce and implement Queue-it’s solution into their website?

A: While it depends on the scope and the business’s infrastructure setup, Queue-it can be put in place in half a day or less. In fact, our fastest implementation was 11 minutes. It surprises many businesses to learn how quick it is, and that no changes to DNS settings are needed.

Q: Do enterprises have to do anything to manage the “virtual queue” once they implement Queue-it’s solution into their website?

A: Once integrated into their website or app, businesses manage the virtual waiting room via an application programming interface (API) or directly in GO Queue-it, our web-based admin platform. The most important thing, besides setting a start and end time for a queue, is to set the traffic inflow level. If running a time-limited queue, the enterprise will likely be monitoring the website performance and social media, and if any changes are needed, the queue can be sped up, slowed down, or paused in real-time. Our customers also really appreciate being able to send live updates to visitors waiting in the queue. It gives enterprises the ability to add a human touch to their online sales.

Some of our customers use Queue-it in 24/7 mode, serving as a safety net against the unexpected traffic peaks that can come from marketing email blasts or press coverage, for example. In that case, they don’t set an end date to the queue, and visitors only see the queue page in situations where traffic exceeds the configured thresholds.

Q: What are the kinds, sectors, and sizes of Queue-it’s enterprise clients?

A: Our customers come in a range of sizes from the online retail, ticketing, governmental, and educational sectors. An example of a small case could be a university that provides student housing and students have to apply for that. An example of an enterprise client is when we protect the iPhone launch by a major telecom company. Most of our customers are in the enterprise range, including several that span markets and geographies. These implementations see Queue-it used by one enterprise to cover multiple websites and apps with queue pages in various languages.

Q: What is the pricing scheme of Queue-it?

A: Our pricing scheme is similar to most SaaS companies, in that we offer a three-tier subscription plan. Pricing depends on factors such as how many times per year the enterprise uses Queue-it, and how many visitors go through our virtual waiting room.

Q: What were the key challenges of building Queue-it’s business and market the technology solution?

A: Queue-it represented a completely new way to address the challenge of traffic-induced website and app crashes. It was nice to be a first mover, but it created challenges in spreading awareness and creating the “category” from scratch. It involves the dual task of marketing for the solution generally and our brand specifically. This is still something we’re doing today.

Q: Do you encounter competition in the market? Where is that competition coming from?

A: We compete and collaborate with many players in the web performance space. We do see some direct competition from companies that provide a comparable solution as part of a larger offering. Queue-it is 100 percent focused on our virtual waiting room and the problems our customers face from traffic peaks, which we believe gives us a competitive advantage over companies that see their products as a side project.

Q: Can you share with us the range of Queue-it’s annual revenue? What is the major revenue source of Queue-it?

A: We do not share revenue numbers, but we can say that our revenue comes from across the online retail, ticketing, education, and government industries. For example, we help with concert ticket onsales, Black Friday sales, Singles’ Day, KOL campaign, school registration, visa applications, and more.

Q: Is the firm profitable now?

A: We do not provide financial data. But we can say that we generally reinvest all available funds into growth, so profitability is not really a goal at this point in our journey. This is similar to other SaaS growth companies.

Q: What is the concentration of Queue-it’s enterprise clients? Would the firm have any expansion plan in the Asia market?

A: Currently, North America is our largest market, with approximately 40 percent of revenue coming from the United States. That said, Asia is a growing share of our business and our current strategic focus, which is why we opened our Asia-Pacific office in 2019 in Australia. We hope to hit 15 percent of revenue from Asia in 2020. It’s an ambitious goal for our first full year after the expansion, but we think we can deliver on it.

Q: How much money have you raised? What are the investors backing the firm?

A: We do not share funding details, but can say that at the current time, Queue-it is mainly an organic growth case. We have been very capital effective.

Q: As we can see recently there is a traffic peak and significant sales among Hong Kong’s e-commerce merchants and retailers’ online portals, is there any figures from Queue-it that you can share with us about the situation?

A: We've seen more than 2.25 million Hong Kong visitors per year in 2018 and 2019, meaning about one in three Hongkongers go through Queue-it annually. Now that Asia is a strategic business focus, we expect to grow even further in the coming years.

– Contact us at [email protected]


First part: Queue-it applies ‘queuing psychology’ to help online retailers

(From left) Queue-it CEO Niels Henrik Sodemann, COO Camilla Ley Valentin, and CTO Martin Pronk launched the one-product software technology company in 2010, with offices in Minneapolis and Copenhagen. Photo: Queue-it

EJ Insight writer