Covid-19 has driven a greater demand for appointment scheduling services in retail, survey finds

Raj Sangha
by Raj Sangha

A new survey of 2,022 US respondents by software provider Qudini has found the pandemic has driven more consumers to want retailers to offer appointment scheduling services. The survey also shows that this demand will continue beyond the pandemic.

The survey, which took place on the week of May 11, 2021, found that compared to before the pandemic, almost half (46%) of consumers said that during the pandemic they were more likely to want to schedule appointments within retail stores and banks. The survey broke appointment scheduling services down into three different use cases; 48% of consumers wanted to be able to schedule appointments for in-store service, 46% wanted to be able to schedule appointments for virtual services that could take place at home by phone or video and 46% wanted to be able to schedule fixed times to browse and visit shops.

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The survey also found that consumers were equally as interested in using appointment scheduling services after the pandemic. When compared to before the pandemic, an average 43% of consumers said after the pandemic they were still more likely to want to schedule appointments – 44% said in-store services, 43% said virtual services and 41% said visits to stores to browse and shop. These numbers represent only a slight decrease from those more likely to schedule appointments during the pandemic, suggesting that the number of retailers using appointment scheduling software will continue to grow after the pandemic. 

The survey asked respondents which types of appointments they wanted to schedule across different industries. The results found that within luxury retail three quarters (76%) of consumers wanted to be able to schedule at least one type of appointment, 35% wanted appointments for in-store services, 27% wanted phone or video appointments and 30% wanted to be able to book appointments just to browse and shop. Similar results were found for fashion retailers, make-up and skincare retailers, jewelry retailers and furniture and home retailers. 

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Within pharmacy retail, 76% of customers wanted to be able to schedule at least one type of appointment, 41% for in-store services, 22% for phone or video service and 24% to schedule times to visit stores. Similar results were found in other essential retail industries such as grocery and pet stores.

Within both telecoms and electronics retail, 78% of consumers wanted to be able to schedule at least one type of appointment; 34% want appointments for in-store services, 26% want appointments for phone or video services and 27% want appointments to visit and browse these shops.

Banks and car dealerships were two of the industries where appointment scheduling services were most in demand. 81% of banking customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 45% for in-branch services, 30% for phone and video service and 21% just to visit branches. Similarly, 83% of automotive retail / car dealership customers want to be able to book at least one type of appointment. Almost half (46%) for in-store services, 23% for phone and video services and 31% just to visit car dealership stores. (More results by industry below.)

The survey found a strong correlation between job seniority and interest in using appointment scheduling software within retail and banks, with 87% of C-Level executives finding such services useful compared with 75% of entry-level executives. 

There was also a strong correlation between younger age demographics and interest in appointment scheduling services, with 81% of GenZ and Millennial consumers wanting to be able to schedule appointments, compared to 67% of Baby Boomers.

Qudini CEO and Co-founder, Imogen Wethered, says:

“Consumer demand to use appointment scheduling software is high across all retail industries. It’s particularly interesting to see that demand is highest amongst senior professionals, likely because they are the most time constrained demographic. When looking at age ranges, demand is also highest amongst the younger, more digitally-savvy generations who tend to show the greatest interest in being able to seamlessly engage with brands through digital tools.”

“These insights attest to the important efforts of leading retailers that have set a new customer experience benchmark by deploying appointment scheduling software to ensure their customers’ safety and efficiency during the pandemic. Our survey data shows that these efforts will be equally appreciated outside of the pandemic, thus we expect COVID-19 to be a catalyst for increasing the number of retailers deploying appointment scheduling software in the coming years.”

Asked why appointment scheduling services would be beneficial to consumers right now, 32% cited that it felt safer and would reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19 as the main reason. The following top reasons given were; that scheduling appointments is efficient and saves time (29%), that it enables customers to plan their day better (24%) and it enables customers to better prepare for what they want to discuss (24%), it would enable customers to get better service (18%) and it enables customers to avoid standing in line (10%).

When asked about the impact appointment scheduling services would have on their behavior, 26% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy from a retailer with an appointment scheduling service, 30% said they would be more likely to visit the retailer in the first place, 25% said they would be more likely to tell their friends about the retailer and 25% said they’ve be more likely to choose the retailer over their competitors.

Overall, 86% of consumers said that an appointment scheduling service would have some kind of positive impact on their spend, loyalty or advocacy, while 93% of consumers that have used a service in the last year said that it did have this impact.

“These insights show that the business case for retailers to deploy appointment scheduling is extremely powerful through its ability to increase their immediate sales revenues while also driving further long term revenues through improved customer loyalty and advocacy,” say Wethered

“These results suggest that retailers offering appointment scheduling services earlier are better future-proofing their businesses, and that they will have an advantage on their competitors both during and beyond the pandemic.”

When asked how customers wanted to schedule appointments they answered by calling the store (30%), using the company’s website (27%) and in-person through a store associate (20%).

“To roll out an appointment scheduling service, retailers simply need to start by equipping their store teams with the necessary software to book appointments by phone and in-store and then by enabling customers to schedule appointments from their website,” says Wethered.

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Full results by industry

76% of luxury retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 35% for in-store services, 27% for phone and video service and 30% just to visit stores.

76% of jewelry retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 36% for in-store services, 23% for phone and video service and 32% just to visit stores.

76% of make-up and skincare retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 35% for in-store services, 25% for phone and video service and 31% just to visit stores.

87% of beauty salon consumers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 57% for in-store services, 18% for phone and video service and 24% just to visit stores.

74% of fashion retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 34% for in-store services, 21% for phone and video service and 33% just to visit stores.

71% sportswear and outdoor retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 29% for in-store services, 24% for phone and video service and 28% just to visit stores.

78% furniture and home retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 38% for in-store services, 24% for phone and video service and 31% just to visit stores.

78% of phone/telecoms retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 39% for in-store services, 27% for phone and video service and 27% just to visit stores.

77% of electronics retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 36% for in-store services, 26% for phone and video service and 30% just to visit stores.

73% of vaping retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 30% for in-store services, 25% for phone and video service and 26% just to visit stores.

81% of banking customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 45% for in-branch services, 30% for phone and video service and 21% just to visit branches.

83% of automotive retail / car dealership customers want to be able to book at least one type of appointment. Almost half (46%) for in-store services, 23% for phone and video services and 31% just to visit car dealership stores.

80% of real-estate agency customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 35% for in-store services, 35% for phone and video service and 23% just to visit stores.

72% of mum children and toy store customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 31% for in-store services, 25% for phone and video service and 28% just to visit stores.

78% of travel retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, a third (33%) for in-store services, 35% for phone and video service and 23% just to visit stores.

71% of grocery retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 36% for in-store services, 16% for phone and video service and 28% just to visit stores.

77% of pet retail customers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 40% for in-store services, 22% for phone and video service and 30% just to visit stores.

78% of car garage and tire retail consumers want to be able to schedule at least one type appointment, 43% for in-store services, 20% for phone and video service and 25% just to visit stores.

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