There were hectic scenes as Kmart shoppers were officially allowed back at midnight on Wednesday and hundreds lined up outside for hours. But there was also some confusion over a new booking system used to ensure customer limits and social distancing could be maintained in stores.
Kmart’s booking system - Social Q app - has time slots divided into 20-minute intervals and while it's not essential to book, if you don't, you may risk waiting a long time until a slot does become available.
You can also book a spot in line for the registers while at home or while at the store.
“Our Social Q app is here to save you time and get you into store as quickly as possible during busy periods – either use the app before you leave home to save your spot in store, or if there’s a line when you get to store, use the app to save your spot without lining up,” Kmart said on its website.
There were plenty of unhappy Victorians who shared their concerns about the system, with some even reporting errors within the first few hours.
“An error occurred while processing your request. It is very frustrating that this is happening!!! Please explain what is happening,” one person wrote on Facebook.
Others wondered why the store couldn’t simply implement a customer count and queue, similar to what supermarkets like Woolworths did.
“How crazy is this system? Why don’t you count people coming in and let someone enter whenever someone leaves? Supermarkets had this system in and worked very well,” one person wrote.
Some simply called the system “ridiculous” and “unfair” towards some customers.
“Not much help to elderly people and to people that do not have internet. You’ve lost me as a customer,” was one angry comment.
However, there were also of shoppers that were all for the idea and agreed lining up for hours wasn’t ideal.
“Honestly I think this is a great idea for Vic at the moment with the amount of people that will be waiting to charge in there like headless chickens, saves the smart people that booked in a lot of time,” one person said on a popular Kmart Facebook group.
“Coming up to Christmas I almost wish they had this all over Aus. Would be brilliant to not deal with the crowds. Some stores get stupid even with the staff ‘monitoring’ numbers,” another suggested.
John Gualtieri, Kmart Australia and New Zealand Retail Director thanked customers for their patience in a statement.
“The excitement and energy ahead of opening has been electric and we wish to thank our customers for their patience during this time and our team working tirelessly to keep up with demand. We understand it is a unique moment for many, and we are committed to delivering a safe and seamless shopping experience to all the community,” Mr Gualtieri said.
In response to the backlash, a Kmart spokesperson also told news.com.au that the new measures are simply there “to ensure the shopping experience is as smooth and safe as possible for our customers”.
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