Retailers, including shopping centers and malls, are getting ready to reopen as stay-at-home measures begin to ease. 

The battle against the coronavirus is still ongoing, however, so in-person businesses are having to think creatively about how they can reopen in a way that guarantees the safety of their customers and employees. That’s led them to the concept of retail by appointment.

Many have turned to our automated scheduling suite for a safe and profitable solution to the return of retail. Introducing the first in our ‘shop safely’ suite; retail by appointment.

What is retail by appointment?

There are many challenges involved in encouraging customers to return to stores when just a few weeks ago those same stores may have been off limits. The behaviors we have learned during lockdown will take some time to unlearn. 

The task for retailers post-lockdown is to present the retail environment as a safe place to be, at the same time as social distancing measures continue to be in place. That means taking every necessary step to minimize contact between customers wherever possible.

Retailers are working hard to strike the delicate balance between reigniting their stalled sales, and implementing policies that protect employees and customers. There’s debate on how best to reopen, with measures being discussed including limiting the number of customers in store at one time, having separate exit and entry points, and operating ‘retail by appointment’ services.

The premise of ‘retail by appointment’ is simple; if a customer wants to visit a store, they have to book an appointment beforehand. That way the customer can still access their favourite stores, products, and services, while the stores themselves can ensure they’re fully prepared for the safety and need of every customer visit. 

Why do you need ‘retail by appointment’?

Retailers ready to reopen to customers have been debating what the new normal of retail will look like. One thing they are all agreed on, is that customers are unlikely to be flocking to stores as and when they please anytime soon. 

The British Retail Consortium has said retailers “need to be ready and, as we start to prepare for the reopening of stores, it’s likely that some virus control restrictions will continue to be necessary to limit transmission.”

On the one hand, reopening stores as quickly as possible is vital to the survival of retail brands and the health of the economy. On the other hand, the safety of customers and staff at this time is paramount. So how should retailers handle this unique situation? 

Retailers need a mechanism in place to prevent large crowds from gathering outside, or inside, retail stores, and an ability to combine online shopping and virtual experiences with safer in-store experiences to boost basket value and increase brand loyalty.

The only way to cover all the bases? Retail by appointment

How to implement ‘retail by appointment’.

Your customers are already comfortable making online appointments, and have been for a while now: online restaurant reservations; travel and hotel bookings; car hire; beauty appointments; haircuts, and doctor visits (just to name a few). 

Online shopping is now a universally accepted concept. So what’s to stop you from taking advantage of scheduled shopping appointments or experiences via apps and websites?

SpaceNK, the luxury beauty retailer, adapted early to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and quickly introduced their ‘retail by appointment’ services

Using Appointedd’s online scheduling functionality, they applied buffers to space out their bookings and ensure that customer interaction was kept to a minimum, while also allowing time between appointments to clean and sanitize. 

Once lockdown came into effect, they were able to adapt once again, using Appointedd’s scheduling system and integration with video conferencing software to deliver virtual makeup tutorials. 

“During the initial phase of COVID-19, we used online scheduling to offer one-on-one appointments with buffers for safe social distancing” says Hannah Templeman, CRM and Loyalty Manager at SpaceNK. 

“Then, when lockdown came into effect, we adapted to offer online consultations and events. The Appointedd widget has helped us to be flexible and to offer meaningful engagement with our customers. We always want to give the best customer experience, so this just makes sure we’re doing that well.” 

Creating a safe retail environment, whether that be online, in-store, or a combination of the two, is the top priority. The sooner you can build a space that enables your customers and colleagues to shop and work with safety, confidence, and peace of mind, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits. 

Why retail by appointment is crucial to the revival of retail

The future of retail will demand far more robust and efficient processes. 

Coronavirus will be with us for the foreseeable future, and even when it’s gone, the aftereffects will be felt for a long time to come. 

The world has changed, and the retail industry has changed with it. That doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities to deliver a better, more personalized customer experience while prioritizing customer safety.  

Customers will want to shop in a secure, controlled retail environment. They’ll want to avoid crowds as much as possible, know the staff at the store are expecting them, and minimize their time in-store while still getting the service and products they need. 

The retailers best prepared for life after lockdown will be those who adapt early to retail by appointment, and it’s those brands who will be key to the revival of the entire retail sector.

Other social distancing measures

We have a full ‘Shop safely’ suite of solutions for retailers around social distancing including:

Retail by appointment

Manage social distancing by appointment, making customers more comfortable visiting stores, enabling safe shopping.

Buffer up

Add buffers to all of your in-person appointments for safe social distancing and sanitisation.

Zero Touch Personal Shop

Ask questions covering tastes, sizes and preferences to save time when your customers turn up.

Up close & virtual

Engage with clients and customers from their homes – via consultation, virtual experiences, online showcases, and masterclasses.

Click and collect plus

Reward loyalty and maximize revenue from ecommerce by enabling bookable click and collect, with benefits.

Book a call to find out more.

Your get ready to reopen plan

Retail has been hit hard by COVID-19. Footfall has been furloughed, and the ‘new normal’ of retail is here.

It’s time to start thinking about your blended balance of virtual and inperson services. Omnichannel retail.

Appointedd collaborates with some of the world’s best retail brands, including Moss Bros., Mamas & Papas and Furniture Village. Through these close partnerships and in-depth conversations, we’ve been able to pinpoint five key Shop Safely feature clusters retailers should be embedding into their reopening post-lockdown strategy:

  • Up close & virtual
  • Retail by appointment
  • Zero touch personal shop
  • Buffer up
  • Click and collect plus

Download our webinar and hear the results of what these features are delivering for our retail clients. It’s as exciting as launching a virtual event and having it fully booked in 15 mins, doubling the events capacity to have it fully booked (again) within 24 hours…1000+ booked instore appointments the first weekend of opening and more!

Published on 5 May 2020