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Retail Appointment Scheduling Is Here to Stay and Here’s Why

Sam Osbourne
by Sam Osbourne

Pre-scheduled retail appointment software, initially used to reduce store traffic and maintain social distancing during the pandemic, will remain an integral part of future-facing retail strategies as we emerge from adapted shopping behaviours forced upon us by the coronavirus crisis.

 

Forward-thinking high-end brands such as Samsung, Pandora, Burberry and Nike have found that the technology used to better choreograph the in-store and online customer experience – by introducing scheduled appointments, virtual queues and fast-track order pickups – not only creates a safer environment in which to shop, but also improves convenience, brand advocacy and store logistics.

 

Moreover, it keeps in-store staff productive. If a sales representative knows that someone with a high propensity to buy is about to enter the store, they can plan for their visit and develop a more consultative experience, which defines how luxury shoppers want to be treated.

 

Shopping by appointment gives sales associates even more bandwidth to make recommendations, cross-sell and up-sell, since one customer has their undivided attention without any distractions.

 

And, since the customer can enter a brief description of what they’re looking for when they pre-book the appointment, sales associates can prepare personalized recommendations.

 

Appointment scheduling for virtual services, which can be held over video conferencing platforms from home (such as Zoom or Go-In-Store), will also now be more than just a contingency ingredient, should retail ever be forced back into lockdown.

Woman video conferencing a customer in office.

For luxury retailers in particular, being able to offer a virtual ‘meet and greet’ is a valuable proposition, which allows high net-worth individuals to start their retail journey with a video-based consultation before scheduling a ‘privacy assured’ appointment in-store at a time convenient for them.

 

After their one-to-one retail appointment or online consultation, customers can collect their items curb-side, or book an appointment to pay for and collect them in-store. Following up the virtual shopping session with an in-store appointment makes the experience even more convenient, exclusive and safe.

 

According to Qudini research, carried out among 2,000 US consumers, efficiency and time saving (29%) and allowing for better planning of daily tasks (24%) are two of the top three reasons why shoppers would welcome the continuation of in-store or online appointment scheduling.

 

For retailers, the business case for appointment scheduling is undeniable – with 33% of customers who have used an appointment service in the last 12 months saying it made them more likely to visit the retailer in the first place; 24% saying it drove them to buy something from the retailer; 29% saying it has made them more likely to return to the retailer; and 21% stating it drove them to tell their friends about the retailer.

 

Shopping by appointment allows a customer to reserve a ‘Book to shop’ or ‘Click and meet’ slot  from any channel (website, app, QR code, in-store etc) at any time of the day or night. They then receive reminders by email and SMS before checking-in and being verified in-store.

 

Even walk-ins can be catered for by equipping a store host with a digital waitlist app / virtual queue system, so that they can greet customers wanting service and provide them with an accurate estimate of their wait time, (similar to how Apple stores use tablets to enable their store hosts to greet walk-in customers before assigning the right advisor to them when it’s their turn – but with the additional capability to provide accurate wait time information verbally and to their phone in the process).

 

Of course, to get the best out of ongoing appointment scheduling, retailers will need to carefully consider the in-store environment by designing waiting and greeting areas, plus consultancy and personal shopper spaces. Ultimately, the customer must feel at ease within the store design or they may be reluctant to return.

Woman paying at a till in a spacious store

However, with evolved store design and the roll-out of dedicated appointment-based models, high-end retailers no longer need to worry about reduced footfall and demotivated staff and can instead, focus on the quality (in terms of customer interactions and sales) over the quantity of people coming through the door.

 

In turn, appointment strategies produce more personalised customer data, which when integrated with other marketing data-points, can help to retain valued shoppers through deeper relationship building and associated product targeting.

 

Even with virtual walk-in queuing technology, store hosts will input customer data, which can then be used for better segmentation, retargeting and personalized marketing that truly reflects what customers are looking for.

 

It’s a retail strategy that will not only future-proof the shopping experience for a post pandemic world but also provide retailers with all the tools required to really understand and cater for their customer’s needs.

 

Qudinis appointment scheduling, virtual queuing and fast-track order pick-up software offers a convenient and premium service that drives traffic, sales and loyalty. Our Retail Choreography framework helps retailers to holistically improve their experience, operations and data to enhance profitability and drive lasting brand relevance. For more information on this or our other solutions such as online event booking, contact us at info@qudini.com

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Latest consumer survey report

Our latest consumer survey report shows which types of retail stores and banks customers want to be able to schedule appointments within…

Recent consumer survey report

Our recent consumer survey report shows how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits and which habits will be here to stay…

Upcoming Webinar

Our Upcoming Webinar will present consumer insights on how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits. Sign-up below for Tuesday October 12th (2pm ET | 11am PT).