Improving the Retail Customer Experience with Appointment Booking
COVID-19 has forever changed the way that customers shop at retail stores. Many are still concerned about becoming sick while shopping, anxious about navigating crowds and narrow aisles while attempting to social distance. These obstacles are pushing some customers further towards shopping online, with some avoiding stores altogether.
Many retailers are adapting to this new paradigm by providing customers with more ways to shop at stores. With the demand for curbside pickup and BOPIS skyrocketing during the pandemic, and with demand staying high even as stores reopened, retailers have ramped up these shopping options to capitalize on online sales.
However, with this massive shift comes new concerns about how to ensure that orders are being fulfilled in a timely manner. At the outset of the pandemic, satisfaction with online pickup and delivery at grocery stores dropped by 30%, likely due to long wait times or items being out-of-stock. These processes are also fairly new in the retail industry. Before the pandemic, many retailers either hadn’t implemented BOPIS and curbside pickup, or were only offering it at select stores.
So how can retailers successfully manage the high volume of these new processes?
Appointment booking solutions are essential to control traffic, comply with various state and local regulations, and ensure a consistently excellent retail experience for your customers. These solutions provide customers, frontline associates, and on-site managers with an easy avenue to schedule, plan, and prepare for upcoming appointments, making it easier to roll out new customer shopping initiatives while guaranteeing that new fulfillment processes are completed efficiently.
Managing curbside pickup and in-store fulfillment processes through appointment scheduling easily improves how these services function. The built-in intelligence within appointment booking solutions interfaces with the workforce scheduling application and other store operations solutions, ensuring that there are enough associates staffed at any time to manage these orders, and that there’s enough space to store items near the fulfillment site. These solutions also take into account whether you need multiple associates or other equipment to transport heavy items to the fulfillment site, ensuring that you have the tools on hand to successfully fulfill online orders.
Appointment booking solutions also help manage other alternative shopping options that are beginning to pick up steam in the retail industry. A number of retailers are rolling out 1-to-1 virtual shopping appointments, where customers can video chat with a frontline associate that can show them around the store and answer all of their questions. An appointment booking solution ensures that associates trained for virtual appointments are always staffed during times those appointments are taking place.
Some retailers are also giving customers the ability to book shopping time in-store, so customers that want to avoid large crowds can guarantee that they are able to do so. Appointment booking solutions give retailers the opportunity to streamline this process, making sure that customers can book these appointments conveniently, while also sending an alert to frontline associates and managers when these appointments are coming up.
Appointment booking solutions also give managers real-time visibility into every part of the appointment scheduling process. Using a mobile device from anywhere in the store, managers can view all upcoming appointments, edit or reschedule appointments when needed, and review detailed reporting in a simple analytics dashboard. This gives them more insight into shifting trends, empowering a proactive response to changes at the store.
With COVID-19 permanently shifting the way that customers shop at stores, it’s essential to utilize tools that keep your stores agile and responsive to customers’ emerging needs. Appointment booking solutions are a great way to help you adapt to these changes, seamlessly managing on-site appointments while proactively managing occupancy and customer traffic.
Want to learn more about how to simplify store operations? Check out our recent white paper, “Top 10 Store Operations Trends of 2021,” to learn more!