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Retail and hospitality apps could be key to track and trace in UK, tech insider says

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Mobile apps designed for retailers and hospitality venues to improve customer safety and experience during COVID-19 could hold the key to kickstarting the effective implementation of a track and trace app in the UK.

Doctors have declared that the government must provide vital data more quickly to effectively fight against COVID-19, after Leicester suffered a significant spike that has resulted in a reinstatement of the lockdown in the city. These statements add to widespread criticism of the government’s failure to effectively establish the NHS track and trace system or a mobile tracking app.

However, with the recent return of the retail sector and the imminent reopening of hospitality venues, millions of people expected to enjoy shops, bars, pubs and restaurants across the country in the coming days and weeks. By implementing mobile technology, retail and hospitality venues can offer an enhanced customer experience, whilst also collecting vital data to integrate with the government’s existing database.

For example, features such as aisle sat-nav and till-less checkout for supermarkets and shops, as well as remote table ordering and in-app payments for bars, pubs and restaurants, can dramatically improve the convenience and safety of a customer’s experience onsite.

However, these functions can also be used to easily calculate which customers have been in proximity and who may be at risk of contracting Covid-19, providing essential contact information to the government to dramatically enhance the efficacy of the track and trace efforts.  

Will Broome, CEO of retail tech pioneers Ubamarket, explains: “Mobile technology offers solutions to a number of the key problems facing the retail and hospitality sectors following the advent of Covid-19. With features such as aisle sat-nav, remote ordering, in-app payments and till-less checkout, mobile apps can not only improve the customer experience, but can also help venues to easily calculate which customers may be at risk of spreading or contracting Coronavirus on-site.”

Ubamarket’s “Scan, Pay, Go!” app for retailers and “uBARmarket” app for hospitality venues requires users to create an account and submit basic contact information, much like any other application. The apps are fully GDPR compliant and so ensure the security of any sensitive customer information. They could also simultaneously provide the government with key information and contact details of customers who have been in contact in-store.  

“We have already seen a number of retailers, including SPAR, EUROSPAR, The Co-Op, Londis and Budgens adopt this technology – if more retailers and hospitality venues were to implement Ubamarket or other mobile apps, they could improve the customer experience whilst also playing a huge role in contributing to the expansion and rapid development of the track and trace efforts in the UK,” says Broome.

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