It’s “health problems first” for retailers during the pandemic. Knowing this, retailers from Apple to Best Buy and beyond have expanded their forward buying capacity. While the concept is as simple as a phone call in some cases, various technology solutions have emerged to make the process go smoothly.
“It’s not difficult to get a robust reservation solution in place in a short amount of time,” said a blog post by the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Most retailers list their stores on their website and on their mobile app. A simple extension is to add an “Make an Appointment” button next to each location, which allows the customer to select the day, time, and number of buyers who want to visit that location. The number of appointments would be limited to the safe occupancy level of each location established by the state or local government, based on the square feet of floor space or a percentage of the maximum occupancy allowed under pre-COVID conditions. “
The RILA blog recommends a new application from FareHarbor, which provides the back-end for Booking.com, Google Reservations, Expedia and TripAdvisor. The platform has QR codes for scanning entrances and exits, as well as real-time insights into business volume, shopping experience, and other metrics.
In the UK, mobile operator O2 has developed a suite of mobile tools to help manage socially distant retail, virtual queuing, staffing and appointment booking technologies. All of them were used to allow O2 to reopen its retail stores when the UK emerged from lockdown on June 15th.
The software is provided by the Qudini retail technology platform. With the appointment software, customers can join a virtual queue, receive SMS updates on their position, get an estimate of the waiting time and the time when an O2 advisor will be ready for their individual appointment.
“Customers are concerned about how to keep social distance while shopping,” said Imogen Wethered, CEO of Qudini. “Until the retail sector addresses these concerns, we are unlikely to return to the pre-lockdown levels. Our virtual queuing technology can help address these security concerns and bring customers back. “
In the US, a new survey shows that after researching Outform, customers want technology solutions like appointments, more voice-activated demos, augmented reality trials, and mobile-enabled self-checkout options in post-pandemic retail environments. 67 percent want self-checkout options from mobile devices. 43 percent would like to see voice-activated solutions. Thirty-two percent like QR codes and 25 percent believe that surfing only with appointments makes shopping safer.
Simon Hathaway, MD EMEA at Outform, said, “The survey found almost unanimous concern for shopper safety and the statistics show a clear call for no-touch retail as people try to avoid physical interactions with products in the retail environment. There’s an undeniable awareness – and excitement – that a return to physical retail needs to happen “as usual,” but our statistics show that shoppers are looking for retailers to invest in touchless technology and find new ways to do business with brands to interact . ”
NEW PYMNTS DATA: BUY NOW, PAY LATER, CONSUMER STUDY
About: Buy Now, Pay Later: Millennials and the Changing Dynamics of Online Credit, a collaboration between PYMNTS and PayPal, examines the demand for new flexible credit options and the way consumers, particularly in the millennial demographics, are paying online. The study is based on two surveys of nearly 15,000 US consumers.