Partnership brings theme park thinking to socially distancing retail queues

(Conceptual photo)

Two companies have teamed up to help retailers reimagine the customer queue experience as retailers limit store capacity to ensure social distancing.

Retail branding agency Theory House is partnering with Mark Gildersleeve, a veteran creative director in the theme park industry, on a new offering, QueueEXP, that transforms a potentially negative experience — long lines outside of stores — into one that is engaging and educational. 

"Drive by any big-box, grocery or home improvement store at key times and you are likely to see dozens, if not hundreds of guests waiting outside," said Jim Cusson, president of Theory House, which is based in Charlotte, N.C. "Most of these lines are uninspiring at best and uncomfortable at worst. And the discomfort will only get exasperated as we head into the heat of summer."

The new solution is based on the queue lines at the best theme parks, where the lines are often as much a part of the experience as the attraction itself," according to Gildersleeve.

"QueueEXP provides a fun and enjoyable queue line experience by cleverly immersing the customer in the store's brands while preparing them for a more efficient shopping experience,” he said. 

Theory House and Gildersleeve developed a conceptual QueueEXP for a national home improvement retailer. Shoppers make their way through a curving modular shade structure that incorporates water misters, cooling fans, and educational audio. Waiting among whimsical, larger-than-life products and tools is a bold way for brands to advertise their products in a uniquely experiential way.

"We see QueueEXP as an opportunity for retailers to differentiate in the marketplace and deliver a better guest experience that brings unique aspects of their brand to life for customers," said Cusson. "There is also an opportunity to transform the expense of managing this infrastructure into a revenue stream by offering sponsorship opportunities for brands to engage directly with guests as they wait in line."

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