Why retailers should consider appointment shopping

Why retailers should consider appointment shopping

Time to consume: 3 min

Retailers have been hit hard by the corona pandemic. Severe restrictions have been imposed, if not an overall forced store closure, limiting footfall and sales in stores. Though facing challenging times throughout 2020 and now 2021, retail has never been quicker to adapt, and new innovations, solutions, and initiatives consistent with restrictions have seen the light of day. Although not an entirely new phenomenon, appointment shopping has given retailers the opportunity to not only provide customers with a safe shopping trip but also a more personalized experience. Here’s why you should consider appointment shopping – during and after the pandemic.

Create a safe shopping space 

In a Covid-19 world, online sales are soaring. Even though consumers still prefer the physical store to the online webshop, right now they are nervous and cautious to visit brick-and-mortar stores due to health concerns. Appointment shopping offers customers a secure and safe way of shopping. 

70% of consumers don’t feel comfortable resuming their normal out-of-home activities during the pandemic(1) 

Appointment shopping is an already familiar concept to consumers; they are used to booking a doctor’s appointment, a visit at the hairdressers or a table at a restaurant. In a retail context, it means booking a time slot online to shop in your physical store – alone or accompanied and guided by an employee. 

In this way, retailers can avoid lines and ensure a restricted number of people in the store at the same time while enforcing social distancing rules and show customers that you prioritize their safety. By using a booking system and time slots, staff can also safeguard time for cleaning and disinfecting between customer visits and determine how much staff is needed on a given day. 

Keep the customer relationship strong 

Long-lasting and good customer relationships are best formed physically with engagement and interaction with products and employees, and appointment shopping offers a way to keep connecting with your customers in person in a safe way during the pandemic. But ialso gives customers a highly personalized shopping experience with one-on-one service, where the employee is fully focused on the one customer and her unique needs and desires.  

Personalized shopping experiences are highly sought after by the customers, why appointment shopping should not be limited to pandemic times. 20% of customers are willing to pay more for a personalized service(2), and 77% of customers indicate, that the service level and friendliness of the in-store staff can be decisive for where they choose to shop.3 Further, personalized experiences incentivizes actually buying, as the products and services presented will be far more relevant to the customer, while customers who make an appointment for shopping usually also do so with the intent of purchasing. Hence, appointment shopping should not only be considered as a Covid-19 measure, but as an add-on to store offerings to provide more personalized, service-focused shopping experiences that drive bigger basket sizes.  

 

Danish Shoe brand creates safe and personalized in-store experience

While many stores chose to shut the doors completely during the first months of the pandemic in Denmark, the Danish shoe brand Roccamore took a different approach to keep sales up and at the same time ensure that customers felt safe while in the Roccamore stores. In March and April, customers could book one of the brand’s two stores all to themselves, so they could shop for the perfect shoes without the fear of having to interact or be too close to other customers. The appointment was made through the brand’s website, and each shopping session lasted one hour of which 45 minutes was allocated to the customer and 15 minutes for cleaning. Further, Roccamore gave customers a highly personalized experience by providing time and space for one-on-one shopping with an employee guiding the customer to the perfect purchase.

 

Article written by 
Laura Simone Andersen, Retail Institute Scandinavia 

 

References

[1] McKinsey & Company, COVID-19 Consumer Pulse surveys, conducted globally between May 15 and June 21, 2020

[2] Retail Institute Scandinavia, consumer survey, 2020

[3] Retail Institute Scandinavia, consumer survey, 2020

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