Reservations Required? How Retailers Can Create Personalized, Safe Shopping Experiences by Implementing a Scheduling System
Reservations have historically only been used by restaurants, spas, hotels, and other service providers, and they are depending on them even more during the pandemic to manage capacity.
But reservation systems are catching on across retail sectors. Studies show that nearly a third of shoppers surveyed say they will not be returning to in-store routines after the pandemic, which creates opportunities retailers not only to provide a safe, predictable shopping experience, but also to provide an even more personalized experience.
For example, the consumer electronics store Best Buy implemented a reservation system for appointments to evaluate and purchase electronics, and both furniture and apparel stores are setting up personalized showrooms or try-on sessions based on customers’ online selections, where the customer comes to the store at the appointed time, and a sales associate guides them on a tour of their selections—and offers additional options based on what the customer initially selected.
Operating with reservations can also provide many other benefits:
- They can provide a clear picture of how many people are in the store, how they move around (customer mapping), and more to help capture useful data to help retailers rearrange, reposition, and respond to customer's hidden cues.
- They can facilitate scheduled sanitation times and provide more visual cues of safety to the customer.
- They can help with scheduling tasks, before, during, and after a stay at a hotel, for example.
The applications are only limited by your creativity, but regardless of what you choose to do, it’s important that you think of the experience from three aspects: customer, employee, and company operations. Here are some examples of questions you want to ask:
- How will a customer make a reservation—by phone, online, or both?
- Can employees who work from home take these reservation requests?
- What happens when a reservation is confirmed?
- What staff do you need to handle a reservations program?
- What information do you need to convey to the customer prior to the appointment?
- What information do you want from them to provide the best experience possible, keeping them engaged and building brand loyalty?
- What measures will you put in place to ensure your program is working well?
- How do you follow up with customers?
However, be sure you don’t put your company in an untenable position by implementing a program that you can’t support. Remember that you have the option to set your program in in a way that best suits your customers, your industry, and the way you do business. For example, some stores are by appointment only all the time, while others might reserve one day during the week for appointments.
It’s also important to keep the human element intact. Regardless of how your customers shop before they come into your store, they need a sales associate or other employee to ensure that personalized experience.
So, how do you make it happen? Two pieces of advice: 1) You don’t have to do everything at once. Start small and add more features as you’re able; and 2) Get creative with retail technology to support your creative ideas. For example, consider a new POS layout for your staff to better service your appointment customers, displaying pertinent customer information like attributes and loyalty benefits.
There are many ways to leverage the reservations concept to better serve your customers while ensuring their safety and increasing loyalty. To learn more, watch this ArcherPoint Tribe Talk video, Reservations Only- Predictable Shopping Experiences in Retail.
Then talk to the retail experts at ArcherPoint about how we can help with technology to support your ideas and strategy.