Over the course of last year’s Black Friday weekend, consumers were 10% more likely to shop at local businesses than they were the year before.
Why? Because small businesses can offer unique products or services that the retail giants can’t provide, said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights at Adobe, who also pointed out that mobile is an opportunity for these small businesses “to extend the support they see from consumers buying locally in-store on Small Business Saturday to the rest of the holiday season.”
Providing customers with one-to-one service has become a major selling point for modern consumers and is often seen as a bigger draw than price alone. This has become particularly true during Covid-19, where consumers were unable to receive face-to-face support from retailers and became particularly eager for virtual service. Our survey of 2,000+ US consumers found 61% wanted video or phone service from essential retailers, while 32% wanted the same from all retail types.
That’s why a growing number of retailers are expanding their in-store and online service offerings this Black Friday to meet the demands of consumers wanting additional support.
How in-person and virtual appointments work
Appointment booking software enables customers to schedule fixed time-slots to receive one-to-one service either via a website or through communication with a store associate or call center.
Customers have the option to choose the time and store that best suits them, and can easily be paired up with the most relevant store associate for their specific request.
Once their appointment is booked, the customer receives confirmation and reminder emails and SMS messages with links to cancel their appointment or reschedule if they need to.
If the appointment is taking place in-store, the customer arrives at the store at their chosen time and is greeted by a store host who easily checks them in, informing the consultant that the customer has arrived.
For online appointments, the customer simply clicks on a link included in their appointment confirmation email that takes them through to their phone or video call.
Example: Brown Thomas appointment booking for in-store and online service
Irish luxury department store retailer, Brown Thomas, which is owned by Selfridges Group, is using the Qudini Appointment Booking System to enable customers to receive service with many of the luxury concession brands within their stores, including: Chanel, Lululemon, Gucci, Tiffany, Dior, Louboutin, Hermes, Prada, Valentino, Tiffany, Mac, Charlotte Tilbury, Nars, Bobbi Brown, Lancome, Clinque, Bare Minerals, Laura Mercier and Hermes. Each concession brand has a customer host that meets and greets customers with appointments, and ensures capacity restrictions by adding customers to a virtual queue for their brand.
Qudini’s appointment booking software will enable Brown Thomas customers to schedule fixed times for both in-store or virtual services, including personal shopping and beauty styling, over the Black Friday and holiday period.Mark Limby, director of stores at Brown Thomas, explains: “A lot of customers find these new ways of managing them reassuring.”
He also said that their NPS scores are extremely strong as a result of using these digital systems to support customers, and that virtual service had been particularly effective at drawing in new customers during Covid-19.