New consumer survey demonstrates the demand for appointment booking software to for service and store visits during the Coronavirus pandemic.
A newly published Qudini survey of 2,000 US consumers, which took place on the 26th of October, 2020, found that the vast majority of consumers would appreciate being able to book appointments at retail stores during Covid-19 for store entrance or service.
Before Covid-19, 47% of consumers admitted to regularly avoiding entering stores or walking out of stores without buying anything because of wait lines: 10% said they did so “often” and 33% said “sometimes”. Millennial and GenZ customers and higher household income groups were most likely to do so.
Half (53%) of consumers said they are even more likely to avoid entering or walkout out of stores without purchasing because of wait lines: 28% said “much more likely” and 25% said “more likely”.
Overall, 20% of consumers stated they are not prepared to more than 3 minutes within stores, 17% would only wait between 4 and 7 minutes and another 16% will only wait between 8 and 10 minutes.
Not only are retailers losing immediate sales revenues if they have waits for service but they are also losing long-term sales and customer loyalty, because 63% of consumers agreed with the statement “A long waiting experience would make me less likely to return to a retailer” (30% strongly agreeing and 33% somewhat agreeing). Higher household income groups were most likely to agree.
A large proportion of customers (64%) have been avoiding stores where possible, with Millennials, women and those from higher income household groups being the most likely to avoid stores. The main reasons for avoiding stores are health concerns and increased online shopping behaviors for 69% and 41% of customers respectively.
Majority of consumers would like to book appointments at stores
Overall, 81% of consumers said they would appreciate appointment booking software from some types of stores, while only 19% said they wouldn’t.
GenX and Millennial consumers are noticeably more interested in appointment booking software within stores, with more than four out of five consumers (83%) from these age brackets claiming they would find the software useful.
Consumers from higher income households are noticeably more interested in using appointment scheduling software, with 93% of the highest income group saying they would find the software useful in some stores.
These consumers also admitted that safety concerns were stopping them from visiting stores, suggesting that appointment booking systems could be a compelling initiative to draw them back into stores.
Female consumers are slightly (8%) more likely to be interested in appointment booking software than male consumers.
What types of stores do consumers want to book appointments at?
When looking at the consumer demand for appointment scheduling software across sectors, particularly amongst the younger generations, interest is highest within pharmacies (28%), grocery stores (27%), banks and building societies (25%), opticians/eyewear (21%), department stores (20%), shopping malls (19%), fashion stores (16%), phone stores (16%) and shoe stores (15%).
When looking at the consumer demand for the software across sectors, particularly amongst the younger generations, interest is highest within pharmacies (28%), grocery stores (27%), banks and building societies (25%), opticians/eyewear (21%), department stores (20%), shopping malls (19%), fashion stores (16%), phone stores (16%) and shoe stores (15%).
This has some correlation with interest in virtual queuing software though with differing priorities on different types of retailers.
In general, Millennial and GenZ consumers are more interested than Baby Boomers in the concept of being able to schedule appointments within most retail store types, including grocery stores, department stores, electronics stores, fashion stores, closing stores, sportwear stores, pet stores, makeup and skincare stores, jewellery stores, luxury and fashion retail stores, amongst others.
However, Baby Boomer consumers are slightly more interested than their younger counterparts in the ability to schedule appointments in banks and building societies, opticians/eyewear stores, car dealerships and DIY stores. They are almost equally likely within pharmacies, garden centres, homeware/furniture stores and travel agencies.
The impact appointment booking software has on consumer behaviour
Overall, consumers responded positively to the idea of using an appointment booking system to schedule store visits and services, with 80% of Millennial and GenZ consumers seeing some benefits, stating that:
- 26% would feel safer and happier and 24% would think better of the retailer – demonstrating that appointment booking software can help to improve customer relationships and brand relevance amongst a quarter of customers.
- 22% would be more likely to visit the store in the first place – showing that enabling customers to schedule appointments can help to drive traffic to stores.
- 22% would be more likely to return to the store – showing that appointment booking software could improve loyalty amongst one in five younger customers.
- 20% would be more likely to tell their friends about the retailer – indicating that advocacy and NPS scores will be improved with retailers using appointment booking software.
- 18% would be more likely to buy something in-store, while 19% would also be more likely to shop with the retailer online – interestingly, the conversion rate for buying items in-store as a result of appointment scheduling is exactly the same as virtual queuing, but the likelihood of buying products online as a result of the software is increased by 1.7 fold compared with virtual queuing software.
- 23% would be more likely to choose the retailer over their competitors – suggesting that retailers can improve their growth using appointment scheduling software.
! These results demonstrate that retailers with long waiting experience could obtain a significant return on investment through using customer hosts to manage customers.
Compared to virtual queuing software, appointment booking software has a slightly more even appeal to GenZ and Millennial customers and Baby Boomers alike.
Both groups are almost equally likely to have improved relationships and chances of visiting a retailer as a result of using appointment scheduling software.
However, younger generations are 35% more likely to be more influenced to visit the retailer, to choose them over competitors and to tell their friends about the retailer.
Yet again, younger generations also report being more likely to make purchases in-store as a result of the software (1.6 times more so than Baby Boomers) and are 3 times more likely to make purchases online with the retailer as a result of the more premium service option in-store.
Again, similar to the virtual queuing and host states, these insights show that, as our omni-channel future and shopping behaviours continue to evolve, retailers that offer great service within stores will see their online sales increase as well.
Higher earning households also report being 1.5 times more likely to buy something in-store or to shop with the retailer online as a result of using appointment booking software, compared to those from lower income households. They also report being more likely to think better or the retailer and to return again.
Overall, the highest income bracket households are twice as likely to see some benefit in a virtual queuing system than those in the lowest tier, with 85% seeing some benefit as opposed to 62% of the lower income tiers.
The benefits of using appointment booking software
94% of younger generations see some benefit in using an appointment booking system, while 75% of Baby Boomers also see a benefit.
The most appealing benefits of appointment booking software to consumers were the ability to the reduce risk of contracting Covid-19, followed by an efficient experience that means they can simply come to store for what they need.
Higher household income groups are more attracted to the efficiency and time saving benefits of appointment booking software, while lower household income groups are slightly more attracted to the health benefits of such software.
Creating effective signage for appointment booking
In order to maximise the number of consumers using your appointment booking function, retailers also need to create effective and easy to understand signage.
The image below shows the formula we use for creating effective appointment booking signage that drives customers to schedule appointments and stay engaged throughout the process.
To help our clients to create clear signage for their appointment booking software, we’ve pulled together a guide.
Overall, our survey insights found that while queuing is a challenge that costs retailers significant revenue opportunity, virtual queuing systems serve as a powerful antidote that can even enable retailers to turn a typically negative experience into something that increases sales both online and offline, while driving strong customer relationships in the process.