Charles Smith, Co-Founder of the “By Appointment” app, which represents 47 international brands and operates across 11 European countries. Credit: By Appointment
Feature | Opinion | Proptech

Shoppers Want Appointments

“By messaging the store in advance via the app, shoppers can ask to view or try on specific items in their sizes and preferred colors, thus giving them exactly what they want without wasting any time.”

By Charles Smith

Our intention, as the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK began to be eased in June last year, was to create an app to give confidence to retailers and shoppers as stores tentatively re-opened and shoppers re-emerged. The challenges for retailers at that point revolved around compliance with evolving government guidelines in each country, the required real-time capacity number management in stores, and the control of potentially chaotic queues on the sidewalks outside.

“By Appointment”, a simple and free-for-shoppers app that lets people book appointments in stores, get in virtual lines, enter and leave stores with minimal contact using a personalized QR code, and communicate in-app with each store was our response to this unique scenario. Not only does it give shoppers confidence, but it also supports anxious store staff members in their effort to abide by government guidelines, manage capacity, and protect the health and safety of both customers and staff. As the situation developed, it became clear that shoppers did not only seek confidence in post-lockdown physical shopping, but, if they were to break away from their comfortable at-home online shopping, their brick-and-mortar experiences would need to be elevated, enhanced, personalized.

A retail revolution instigated by consumer preferences disrupting the sector has changed the way people shop and the way brands now operate. While omnichannel shopping has become the customer expectation, traditional retailers now need to maximize their physical presence, delivering engaging and educational experiences, using novel technology and futuristic creativity.To deliver such experiences successfully, data, as always, is king. With invaluable consumer insight, a retailer can deliver the ultimate omnichannel shopping experience. Adopting robust GDPR compliance, the “By Appointment” app offers data insights, with 56% of shoppers consenting to giving our brand partners their personal information.

The concept of enhanced shopping experiences driven by personalization is quickly becoming the new expectation and the future of physical retail. By messaging the store in advance via our app, for example, shoppers can ask to view or try on specific items in their sizes and preferred colors, thus creating an optimized shopping trip that gives them exactly what they want without wasting any time. A shopper with an appointment is a shopper with intent. Retailers who use our app have reported exponentially increased conversion rates, brand engagement, and customer satisfaction.

It is a given that the role of the physical store will still be important despite the rise of online retail. Consumers will continue to visit physical stores for advice, to try out products, and to shop with friends. We have found that 87% of shoppers who use our app schedule an appointment rather than join a queue. They plan, on average, 4.8 hours ahead of their appointments, creating a considered shopping schedule that includes breaks at cafés and bars as well as meals at restaurants, which maximizes their time.

The shopping “day out” is more valued than ever, giving consumers the chance to safely spend quality time with friends and family while engaging with their favorite retail brands. Our “By Appointment” app delivers that enhanced experience, evolving today’s technology for tomorrow’s world.

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