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What Are Virtual Appointments in Retail?

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

Prior to the second lockdown when stores were still open, our survey of 2,000 UK consumers showed a clear opportunity for every type of retailer to better engage between 11% to 34% of their Millennial and GenZ customer base and 5% to 31% of Baby Boomers through offering virtual services.

Now that stores have been forced to close yet again, we predict that these numbers will be even higher.

What are virtual appointments?

Illustration showing the step by step appointment booking process for customers

Learn more about virtual appointments

Where do consumers want virtual appointments

April 2020 survey of 2,000 consumers about virtual appointments

When asking consumers about their interest in virtual services from different types of retailers at the start of the April 2020 lockdown our first survey to 2,000 UK consumers showed that:

Our graph to the right shows the different levels of interest in virtual service by type of retailer.

Across all types of retailers younger generations were slightly more likely to want virtual service by phone than Baby Boomers. However, they were more than twice (113%) as likely to want video service from brands.

The avid interest in virtual service from these younger demographics also suggests this interest extends beyond the Coronavirus outbreak and that Covid-19 could act as a catalyst for a new omni-channel world where personalised interactions happen more frequently online.

Why retailers should look to implement virtual appointments

When asked what the benefit of a retailer offering virtual services would be to them (prior to November lockdown measures) 72% of Millennial and GenZ consumers stated at least one benefit if a retailer offered them this service, including that:

Virtual services appears to have double the positive impact on younger generations over Baby Boomers. Millennial and GenZ customers are twice as likely to feel safer and happier, to think better of the retailer, to speak with the retailer in the first place and to visit the retailers’ stores. However, they are 3 times more likely to buy something online and to tell their friends about the retailer as a result of the ability to schedule virtual services with brands.

This greater interest in virtual services from younger generations, even at a time when stores were open, suggests again that these types of services will remain after the pandemic and that we are entering a new age of omni-channel retailing that Covid-19 has a been a catalyst for.

Higher earning households are also more interested and more positively impact by the concept of brands offering virtual services. They were twice as likely to be converted to an online purchase and three time more likely to tell their friends about brands as a result of a retailer offering the option to schedule a fixed time to connect with an advisor by phone or video.

These insights demonstrate that, even when stores are open retailers could better engage and convert some of their higher value customers through offering virtual appointments online. All this also suggests that virtual appointments provides a powerful option to continue engaging with customers while stores are closed.

 

How do consumers like to use virtual appointments

In our USA consumer survey we asked which channels customers would be most likely to use to schedule a virtual or in-store appointment through and found that:

For appointment scheduling software:

Chart showing which appointment booking method customers would be most likely to use to schedule an appointment

 

Promoting your virtual appointment booking offering

In order to drive traffic to your virtual appointment booking offering, it’s vital that you actively promote it across channels. Here are some ways to do so:

Read our guide on promoting your appointment booking offering

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New best practice guide

Our new best practice guide explains how Appointment Booking Landing pages will drive traffic to your in-store and virtual appointment services.

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).