Ulster Business

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NI technology offered free to help retailers manage queuing and social distancing


Peter McCaul of Pearlaí

Peter McCaul of Pearlaí

Peter McCaul of Pearlaí

A Northern Ireland entrepreneur has developed new technology to help retailers manage queueing and enforce social distancing amid the coronavirus crisis.

Péarlaí Protect is being offered free of charge to shopping centres across the globe as the retail sector begins to open up again and begins to adjust to the coronavirus crisis.

It will allow shoppers to "pre-book slots at individual stores allowing them to skip the queues on arrival and have direct access to shops at a time that suits them".

Retailers and centre managers will also benefit from the technology and can use the insights to better gauge the volume of customers and therefore plan staffing rotas and stock accordingly.

Peter McCaul, chief executive of Péarlaí, has been supported to develop this technology through a spot on Ulster Bank’s Accelerator Programme where he was given access to expert coaching and mentorship as well as free workspace and facilities.

“We have seen how essential and non-essential retailers are adjusting to the new normal and are confident that our software will provide benefits to shopping centres, retailers and shoppers alike,” he says.

“Many shops, whether it’s a large supermarket or a small clothing boutique, are limiting the number of people allowed in store at any one time so rather than risk spending long periods of time queuing outside, our technology allows you to pre-book a slot where you will be guaranteed access at a time convenient for you.

“Péarlai has also developed a cloud-based counting system which will help shopping centres manage their capacity keeping their shoppers and retailers health and safety top of their priorities while meeting government guidelines.

“We have successfully launched our Péarlaí VIP technology in a number of centres across Northern Ireland, one in the Republic and are about to expand into continental Europe. The feedback from each of these schemes has been overwhelmingly positive and we have heard first-hand how retailers have used the data and insights driven from Pearlaí Protect to better plan for the day ahead, both in terms of staffing levels and stock.”

Gill Rattray, scale acceleration manager with Ulster Bank, who has been working with Peter said Pearlaí Protect was just one example of the innovative companies involved with the bank’s Belfast hub.

“At the Ulster Bank Accelerator Hub, our aim is to give entrepreneurs like Peter support and challenge. This combination breeds a mindset open to creating new ideas with a real potential to scale. Peter is just one example of the innovative work going on, where entrepreneurs see a very real problem and can quickly develop and implement technology as a solution to this.”

Ulster Business