Retailers awaiting the return of customers to their stores may soon see a semblance of normalcy.
In a McKinsey survey conducted in February 2021, 59 percent of respondents had shopped for nonnecessities over the previous two weeks, and 25 percent had visited a shopping mall. These numbers show that as vaccines continue to roll out, people are starting to get more comfortable with activities outside the house.
But until it’s completely safe to casually roam the store aisles, an appointment shopping system can be a great option to boost in-person sales right now. Shopping by appointment is not only convenient and safe for your shoppers, but it can also keep your store organized and your employees happier.
Here’s what you should know about setting up an appointment shopping system in your store.
What is an appointment shopping system?
Appointment shopping systems are nothing new in certain industries. Stores that provide personal attention to shoppers, like bridal boutiques, electronics retailers, and sports equipment stores, often require you to schedule an appointment in advance. But because of the fear of overcrowding during the coronavirus pandemic, this method of shopping can be a great option for many other types of retailers as well.
An appointment shopping system allows customers to schedule a specific time slot to enter a store and either shop freely or receive special attention.
Some businesses may schedule shopping appointments to allow salespeople to focus their attention on one customer at a time. Other stores may elect for appointments due to the size of their shop or the nature of what they’re selling. For example, clothing or equipment that requires sizing or other customization will often require one-on-one attention.
As of April 2021, the federal government in the Netherlands recommends appointment shopping for all nonessential shops. Though these regulations will likely be lifted once the pandemic subsides, many businesses are seeing the benefits of an appointment shopping system and may choose to continue using it.
Benefits of setting up an appointment shopping system
Is an appointment shopping system a good move for your business? There are a number of perks to scheduling your customers’ time in your store.
The one that’s currently top of mind for store owners is the ability to follow social distancing protocols during COVID-19. It’s much safer if fewer customers are present in the store at one time but also more comfortable — especially during high traffic times like holidays.
Being forced to elbow their way through the shop or wait in ridiculously long lines sends some customers out the door before they even make a purchase. A less crowded store puts shoppers at ease and creates a better overall shopping experience.
It can also be beneficial for shoppers to book time with a specific salesperson if they have certain expertise. For example, if you own a sporting goods store, someone looking to buy a pair of skis will want to chat with the salesperson who has the most experience with sizing and can give good recommendations.
Customers benefit from personalized assistance, and your sales associates can better focus their attention if they’re only helping one person at a time.
Things to consider before scheduling shopping appointments
Before you jump into creating your system, there are a few things to iron out. First, consider the following questions:
- How soon will customers need to book their appointments?
- Will you allow for drop-ins, or will scheduled appointments be required?
- Will you allow customers to book an appointment with a specific sales associate?
- How long will your appointments last?
- Will you need to collect any personal information from your customers before they arrive for their appointments?
- Will you ask customers to confirm they are free of any COVID symptoms before entering your store?
While you may not have the answers to all of these questions just yet, the sooner you figure out the details, the easier it will be to get your appointment system up and running smoothly.
How to set up an appointment shopping system
If you decide an appointment shopping system is right for your business, JotForm has everything you need to get set up and start scheduling. Just follow these steps:
1. Choose from a number of premade appointment forms, including one specifically for shopping by appointment, or create your own with the Form Builder. You can add a text box on your form for any special requests or allow shoppers to book time with a specific sales associate. JotForm allows you to customize your forms with your store logo, themed colors, and more.
2. Embed the form into your store’s website so that customers can simply fill out their information and choose a time slot. With JotForm’s Google calendar integration, you can even set up the shopping appointments to immediately sync to your store’s calendar, making it easy to keep track of them.
3. Start collecting your appointments and organizing them with JotForm Tables. Once you start scheduling appointments, you can start collecting all of your customers’ information in one easy-to-read spreadsheet. Share this spreadsheet with your sales associates each day so they can keep track of which customers they’ll be assisting and prepare ahead of time for any specific needs.
With JotForm, setting up and maintaining your appointment shopping system will be so easy you’ll continue to see the benefit even after our shopping experience gets back to normal.
Food photo created by diana.grytsku – www.freepik.com