Penneys, which is operated by Primark, reopened its Ireland stores this week after months of lockdown, but where the reopening differed from the past was that it allowed customers to schedule appointments for their visits.
Ireland allowed stores to reopen from Monday 10 May, but made it mandatory for all customers to book appointments in advance. However, demand to visit a Penneys store was heightened significantly as the retailer doesn’t have an e-commerce offering, meaning customers couldn’t get their hands on products for all of this year.
Using the Qudini Appointment Scheduling Software, Penneys allows 100 shoppers through its doors every 60 minutes from dawn to dusk. Customers are given 45 minutes for shopping and 15 minutes to pay and/or leave.
The Penneys / Primark appointment booking customer journey
Customers wanting to visit Penneys stores can book an appointment on the Primark Ireland website through the appointment booking page (see below).
Customers can then select a store that is convenient for them and click “Book Here”.
Customers are then presented with a series of available time slots to choose from. After selecting one, they enter their details and confirm their appointment time. Appointments have been high in demand and are released periodically, meaning most customers have had to join a virtual queue.
What customers think of the appointment scheduling service
The competition to snag an appointment has been fierce; 250,000 have been booked but many customers have missed out. However, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Irish Times interviewed several customers outside the Mary Street branch in Dublin – here are some of the comments:
“I’m here for the socks, the pyjamas, the leggings and the knickers. You’d really miss Penneys, even for the little things for birthday presents. It is just so nice to be able to physically hold things,” said Aoife O’Connor from Clondalkin. “It is brilliant, there is hardly anyone in here and no queues. I’m delighted now I booked appointments for everyone I know.”
Aisling Walker from Oliver Bond Street said she was “delighted to be back, absolutely delighted. I have underwear and pyjamas, but really it is just the thought of being in Penneys. And the appointment thing is great, I’ll be in and out before you know it.”
Aisling Alcock from Coolock was on her second Penneys appointment of the day having spent an hour around the corner in the O’Connell Street branch just after dawn. “I wasn’t sure I’d get Mary Street so I booked there first and then I got here too so I took both appointments,” she said. “So far I’ve spent three-fifty so I might have to budget a bit now.”
Twitter has also been ablaze with funny memes and tweets:
Customers are selling their appointments online
Some customers have taken to selling appointments on Facebook Marketplace and DoneDeal, and others reported an appointment on sale for €100 on Twitter.
A Penneys spokesperson told FM104: “We are delighted at how popular our shopping by appointment bookings this week have proven with over 250,000 appointments made so far.
“While most of our larger stores are now fully booked, any cancelled slots will go back up on the system.
“We recommend that customers book their appointments through our website directly which we know is the case for the vast majority of bookings.”
They added: “It’s been wonderful to be able to welcome so many customers back this week, and for those who missed out on a slot, they won’t have too much longer to wait as all Irish stores will be open to everyone from next Monday with extended hours in each one.”
Another Irish retailer using the Qudini Appointment Booking System is Brown Thomas and Arnotts, which has store associates positioned outside the entrance holding tablets and checking customers’ names before entering.