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3 reasons why retailers should look to appointment booking

People are familiar with making reservation-like appointments when they want to dine at their favorite restaurant, see a health practitioner, or visit the spa. Retailers are now adopting this concept and applying it to their stores to offer another way to stay connected and provide more choices for customers.

In the wake of the global pandemic, retailers have had to adjust and become agile with governments restrictions and policies in place, temporary store closures, stores reopening with limited operations, and the shift in how consumers want to interact with brands. With the holiday shopping season upon us, retailers are responding to the rise of pent-up demand following consumers being forced to stay at home. This is where appointment-based shopping can help retailers bring customers back into the store. According to the 14th annual Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey, 62% of consumers said that booking a time to shop in person could inspire them to physically return to a department store, consumer electronics retailer, or homewares retailer. Scheduling virtual appointments can also bring a more human experience to those that prefer to shop online. 

Here are 3 main reasons retailers should incorporate appointment booking into their omnichannel experiences:

Customers take control in how and when they wish to connect with brands

Prior to this year, people wanted an in-store shopping experience that couldn’t be replicated online. With the shift in customer behavior and world events, customers are now demanding the same experience they were used to receiving in-store, online. With appointment scheduling, customers have the power to connect with the store when and how they want to. Customers can shop through the three types of shopping – digital, physical and social – seamlessly and efficiently. Booking lets brands adapt to customer behavior in whatever way they wish to navigate the shopping journey. Customers may browse an online catalog at home, make a mobile purchase through social shopping on a walk, and then book a pick-up time at their ideal store location to avoid long queues. Online booking provides customers with fast, easy-to-use, convenient ways to connect with the brand from anywhere. Saks Fifth Avenue, a luxury department store, is offering a variety of services to adapt to new customer needs including in-person appointments before and after store hours, virtual personalized shopping, and time with digital stylists.

Stores become safer and more comfortable shopping environments

In today’s age, people have become hyper aware and concerned about their health and safety when it comes to maintaining social distancing and adapting to the new way of daily living. Customers are prefering to shop online to avoid entering a store, while associates are concerned about their own wellbeing when working their shift. Stores are already putting in measures to create safe spaces by offering masks and sanitization stations and placing stickers throughout the store to maintain social distancing. With appointment booking, the store can increase safety by mitigating overcrowding and expand the aisles with designated time allotments. Customers can enter the store with ease knowing that they can have a contactless shopping experience. Stores can let customers book change rooms to try clothes on, come in to see their favorite necklace before purchase, receive tailoring services, or pick up orders they processed online. Booking also gives stores time to provide proper sanitization in between visits. 

Associates guide customers through inclusive experiences

Whether online or in-store, when customers book appointments for virtual or in-store visits, associates can act as consultants by providing high touch shopping experiences. Shoppers expect high quality service online just as much as they do in-store. Retailers can transform the online experience by offering virtual experiences such as virtual home decorating assessments, walking through skincare products, holiday gift consultation and more. Services they were used to receiving in the store, can now be translated online, providing more options for the customer. Appointment booking also allows for customers to continue clienteling in the store at a convenient time by booking private shopping visits, home appliance consultations, suit and dress fittings, and more. Diptyque, personal and home fragrance brand, recently announced the opening of two New York City storefronts, offering scheduling virtual consultations and scheduled shopping appointments to keep stores at reduced capacity. Appointment scheduling helps store associates become stronger brand ambassadors as well as helps amplify their customer relationships and experiences.

Appointment-based booking increases people connections, levels up meaningful experiences and builds customer-brand relationships. Retailers are constantly looking for innovative ways to meet the needs of their clientele while rapidly pivoting in the wake of the global pandemic. Appointment booking is simple, convenient and flexible. It not only helps brands stay competitive in the short term, but helps add exclusivity, build brand loyalty, and increase growth revenue in the long term.

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