How appointments can turn bland shopping experiences into remarkable ones.
When we think of going shopping at a retail store, say to buy a new TV, new shoes or clothes, or a new couch or table, we wouldn’t think of making an appointment first. It feels like something a celebrity would do before going to a posh store — call ahead and let the store know when they’re coming to ensure their privacy and that they get the service they expect. Maybe it’s time (with a big push from a terrible pandemic) that we all were treated a little bit more like celebrities. (We all deserve some red-carpet care, wink wink)
For certain retail experiences, appointment booking has been the best solution all along. For the leaders of this trend, like Best Buy, who early on in the pandemic were able to open stores with an appointment-only model found it to be a successful strategy. And the big trend going into 2021 will be that more retailers will be following that blueprint.
Certainly by-appointment retail doesn’t fit all retail, but for those that are usually high-touch, meaning a lot of employee assistance customers (like Best Buy or, if you think about it, a shoe store), are high cost, where people want to be sure they are spending their money on the right product, which includes luxury brands, where personal service is really built in to the brand experience.
So, why is appointment booking a good idea for these types of retailers? Let’s dig into it with three of the most important reasons.
1. Customer and Staff Safety with effective crowd control
Initially, it may seem like appointment booking for retail is an exorbitant cost for what feels like a reduced opportunity to make sales. If we consider this a little bit deeper, however, we may feel differently. Certainly you will have less customers with appointment booking than compared to footfall, (let’s disregard the need in the current climate to keep the number of people in-store down for social distancing). But, on the other hand you also have a much higher percentage of motivated customers.
2. Putting time and effort into motivated customers, resulting in much higher conversion
People who just want to browse and kill some time don’t make appointments to come to your store. If a customer makes an appointment, it’s a good bet they really want to buy something. Furthermore, since you have created a one-on-one experience for the customer and your staff, the opportunity to educate and up-sell is much, much higher. Not to mention the fact that since you likely know exactly why the customer is there in the first place, you can anticipate their needs aforehand. So you can think ahead of time of the best solutions for them, including options they themselves may not have considered. You can access their profile and loyalty programs and tailor a personalized shopping experience for your customer.
For example, a clerk greeting the customer could begin an interaction with: “Good Morning Mrs. Anderson, I’ve put aside the dress and shoes you were interested in. I noticed from your profile it’s your birthday tomorrow, happy birthday! We’re able to offer you a 20% discount just because you choose to shop with us today. I also have some accessories you might like to pair with that outfit. I’ve put everything aside for you in the change room.”
This is just one example of several types of interactions that can be tailored to the customer’s profile with profile information integrated into the retailer’s loyalty and inventory systems.
So the upfront cost of setting up the appointment booking system and loss of a certain amount of walk-in customers (though we aren’t suggesting eliminating walk-in customers altogether) can be offset by focusing on motivated customers. It also creates expanded opportunities for upselling and rewards.
3. Offer a vastly improved customer experience, making customers feel like celebrities
From the customer perspective, appointment booking ensures customers can get a curated experience, with a staff member present specifically to answer customer questions and help them with their purchases. No more wandering around, wondering if anybody actually works at the store, or the all too common mistake of asking a person who doesn’t work at the store, just because they’re wearing a blue shirt.
Appointment booking can also make the customer feel more comfortable with their purchase as they have the time and opportunity to ask questions without feeling rushed. Also, there’s a real potential to have a personalized experience that really feels like it’s just for that customer. People will feel like they matter. And that kind of experience can build brand loyalty.
With the right retail store, appointment booking can absolutely transform the customer experience into a remarkable one. And at Aequilibrium, we believe in delivering remarkable customer experiences. To that end, we’ve partnered with Wavetec, a customer experience solutions company that has 20+ years experience with a wide range of world-class clients. The solutions are quick to deploy, most can be up and running in a week or less, and are highly scalable, so you can start small and then expand as your customer and staff expectations evolve.
If you’re interested in Wavetec technology, and how Aequilibrium can help implement appointment booking for your retail locations, please get in touch to learn more.