Ringing in the Holiday Season: How the Appointment Economy Will Thrive in 2020
Holiday season 2020 ... bring it on. More than ever, consumers are longing for the joy the season typically brings, especially since life as we know it amidst the worst (and only) pandemic of our lifetime still looms.
When we think of holiday shopping though — the crowds, tight spaces and just the sheer madness — ugh! During a pandemic? The thought of crowded stores, malls and parking lots is enough to make anxious consumers think twice.
As retailers approach the holiday lollapalooza, how will they provide a safe environment for consumers looking to get their shopping done safely?
Ring in the Appointment Economy
With the future uncertain for COVID-19 outbreaks, many consumers cannot fathom a trip to the mall this holiday season. Thus, retailers must take extra safety precautions and think outside of the norm to earn consumers' trust. Options outside of in-store shopping are a must — hence the appointment economy. Here are some of the ways appointment technologies will surge, benefiting both customers and retailers as brands vie for consumers' wallets.
Invest in Serious Footfall Management
Scheduling shopping appointments and time slots will manage in-store foot traffic and control crowds, making in-person shopping less chaotic, giving retailers the opportunity to provide a more personal and unique experience to shoppers. Scheduling appointments prior also alleviates waiting in queues outside of the store. With proper footfall management, shoppers can even stay warm in their cars while they wait. This type of management will make a big difference in the minds of those consumers who are willing to venture out, yet not willing to stand elbow to elbow while purchasing goodies for under the tree.
We saw this trend surge at the beginning of COVID -19, and curbside pickup (aka, click and collect) will gain even more momentum as consumers avoid the holiday crowds and shop at their leisure with the ability to pick up at the curb when it's convenient for them. Curbside adds the best of both worlds, where a consumer can shop online, but save the expense on shipping by picking up as well as mixing up their day with a change of scenery. In fact, 55 percent of consumers say they will use curbside pickup more this year than they did last, according to the PowerReviews Holiday Consumer Survey.
1-to-1 Virtual Shopping Appointments
Virtual shopping used to be thought of as only for the “rich and famous,” and mainly for luxury brands. Not so in 2020. Virtual shopping appointments will rise, as they provide comfort and safety in a controlled environment. No crowds, no germs, no worries in a touch-free setting where you don't have to think about sanitizing measures, gloves, masks or hand washing. And thinking back to your last holiday shopping excursion — if you ever waited an hour to check out your purchases, desperately looked for someone to assist you with an inquiry, or forgotten where you parked your car in the mall garage — virtual shopping is for you. It offers personalized one-to-one experiences you won't find in the mall this December. For consumers, it offers the ability to see up close a variety of choices that aren't picked over or grabbed out of your hands. For retailers, it provides better interaction and more opportunity to upsell.
Virtual Events That Drive Purchases
Retailers have an opportunity to demonstrate their services through online events, such as holiday baking classes, DIY decorating, and how-to workshops, which can then drive contextual purchases online. Retailers will have the ability to attract many more attendees being virtual vs. live, as there are no space limitations, and you have the ability to answer questions via online chat.
Shoppers want to celebrate the holidays AND support their favorite brands this season. While price will be a factor, safety and options will be first. Offering a variety of ways to buy will be paramount to the retailer as we look ahead to the holiday season of this most crazy year.
And for those who look forward to that picture with Santa every year — you can likely still do that, but you might have to pre-arrange an appointment with him to guarantee a place on his lap free of lines and other kids. No tears ... well, that's not guaranteed.
John Federman is the CEO of JRNI, a company designed to facilitate powerful personalized experiences that increase conversion and revenue, customer loyalty, and lifetime value, both in person and remotely.
Related story: Will Online Appointments Replace Face-to-Face Shopping?
John Federman is CEO of JRNI, a company designed to facilitate powerful personalized experiences that increase conversion and revenue, customer loyalty, and lifetime value, both in person and remotely. Companies rely on JRNI’s scheduling platform to deliver personal actions across touchpoints – appointments, events, queuing – and optimize resources to deliver superior quality experiences. Their newest suite of services works to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.