Shoppers can find out the least busy times to go shopping at Lidl stores via a WhatsApp chatbot
Customers send the chatbot the time and day they intend to visit a store and the chatbot tells them if it’s a quiet, average or busy time to shop
Aldi, Waitrose and Morrisons have all asked customers to visit stores in the evenings when it’s quieter
Lidl has launched a WhatsApp chatbot that customers can converse with to find out the quietest times to shop at their local store.
The chatbot, which has been rolled out by Lidl Ireland is the first of its kind to be launched by the discounter anywhere in the world.
“This innovative approach uses real-time data and customer transaction numbers to determine which hours of the day are quietest to visit and which are busiest, allowing for customers to plan their shopping trips accordingly,” a spokeswoman for Lidl said.
Using a web version of WhatsApp, customers send the chatbot the time and day they were intending to visit a store. In response the chatbot tells them if this is a quiet, average or busy time to shop with traffic light emojis.
“Okay based on previous shopper behaviour this is a busier time to shop. This means you might have to queue slightly longer than normal to make sure we can adhere to correct social distancing,” was one of the responses given by the chatbot to The Grocer.
“Okay based on previous shopper behaviour this is an average time to shop. Please remember to respect 2m social distancing when shopping in our stores as a courtesy to our team and your fellow shoppers,” read another.
The functionality is limited – customers must enter the time and day they were intending to visit, rather than be sent all the quiet periods through the week – but responses were received as billed, “in a matter of seconds”. Customers can also ask for store opening hours.
The chatbot was designed and launched in-house “using customised software created by Lidl” the company said. To access the chatbot customers visit Lidl.ie/Quiet on a mobile device or desktop computer.
Lidl plans to extend the service to Northern Ireland “which will be developed separately to reflect their data” a spokeswoman said. A wider rollout is being considered.
Several supermarkets have revealed their quieter hours in an effort to make social distancing easier in stores and avoid queues. Rival discounter Aldi posted the best times to visit stores to “make your shopping trip more enjoyable”. On its website the company says late mornings from 11am are the busiest times while 7pm to 10pm are the quietest.
Waitrose and Morrisons have also urged customers to visit “later in the day” when stores are typically less busy.