woman wearing covid-19 mask
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Shopping has taken many forms over the years. Just think about how it has changed last year alone. As the Harvard Business Review suggests, one thing is for certain, Covid-19 has changed the rules of retail.

Retailers have had to adjust the customer experience to accommodate social distancing norms. And they have done a pretty good job, giving customers more and more options to find and shop their products. 

It is no longer a competition between brick-and-mortar vs. online retail. People still crave the traditional in-store visit. With Covid-19 restrictions set around the world, however, they are settling for alternatives. 

The two methods that have become more mainstream during this period are click & collect (or whatever government regulators may name it) and appointment shopping (or “click in shop," or “book to shop", etc.), which protect retailers and customers alike, reducing the number of people with whom they have prolonged contact.  

What is Click and Collect?

Click and collect is not a recently coined term, as it has been used by large department stores and supermarkets for years. It refers to the method of customers remotely placing their orders to a store and picking up their products from the physical store or a drive-through collect hub.

What is Click in Shop?

Appointment shopping, on the other hand, is a rather new term for the general shopping population. Although it is a common practice for the high-end shopping population, it is now becoming an option for the general population, thanks to health and safety concerns. This method gives customers the option to make an appointment remotely to shop in your store. 

A recent survey by McKinsey in the US reported that 70% of respondents do not feel comfortable resuming their normal out-of-home activities just yet. However, as the same survey suggests, when they start returning to those activities, shopping will top their to-do list. When that happens, they will be cautious for sure. What’s more, they will want to have choices. So, it becomes clear that although these two shopping methods, which have moved to the mainstream, are not a panacea, they are here to stay. As a retailer, it would be wise for you to adopt them fast so you can reap the benefits of both. 

Advantages of the Click and Collect and Click in Shop

Increased Flexibility

For both the customer and the retailer, click & collect and appointment shopping offer flexibility. They allow customers to pick up their order at a time and location that suits them, without having to wait for it to be delivered at home, while appointment shopping gives them the option to shop the time that best suits them. Yes, the selection may be less robust than when buying from the general website, but customers seem fine with the compromise. Retailers, on the other hand, see click & collect and appointment shopping as a way to decrease delivery costs and increase customer interaction with staff, providing a more personalized experience.

Keep selling with a manageable customer flow

As we stated before, the reason these two methods have gained popularity during Covid-19, is the fact that they limit the number of customers in and out of the store and support social distancing. With that being said, having a limited number of customers in your store can help you better manage what happens on the sales floor, as customer visits or pick ups will be spread throughout the day. This will help in better preparing for busier periods and better allocating resources.

Enhancing the shopping experience

With a more manageable customer flow, you can for sure invest in providing a better shopping experience. There will be far fewer customers in-store, giving customers more space, creating a relaxed environment that will help them feel safe. While at the same time your staff are calmer and can focus on providing an excellent and more personalized experience, winning the hearts and wallets of customers!
Not only that, allowing customers to enter your store at a time that best suits them, without having to queue up outside to enter, creates a far more enjoyable and less chaotic customer experience.

Maintaining engagement, while building trust

It may be months, even years until we actually return to a normal daily routine of working, socializing, and shopping. It is therefore essential that retailers maintain engagement and continue investing in their relationships with their customer base.

By offering flexible and safe click & collect or appointment shopping options you can achieve that, while also boosting your customers’ confidence in shopping with you. In the new order of things, customers will need that extra layer of security in order to visit your store, whenever that is possible. It is important to respect and take care of those who feel anxiety with in-store visits, offering them alternative methods to complete their purchases. 

Get Started! Control your Click and Collect order and Appointment Booking with Routee

Τhe disruption Covid-19 has brought to retailers is pretty dramatic. However, with no clear end-point to the social distancing measures of the pandemic, retailers have some alternatives in hand in order to continue their operation and offer a safe, yet positive experience to customers.

It is just a matter of you deciding to adopt these new methods. Once you do, Routee’s automation tools are here to assist you, enabling you to easily arrange time-slots for customers to click & collect or make an appointment to visit your store. With Routee's services, you can serve your customers safely, without having any specialized technical knowledge or an online shop. Rest assured it will be easy. Let’s walk through the process. 

  1. 1. A Routee Click Away Expert will activate for you the smart order or appointment form, for your customers to fill in.
  2. 2. Let your customers know you are offering click & collect and/or appointment shopping by sharing the URL of the smart form on Facebook or wherever you wish.
  3. 3. Your customers fill in the smart order or appointment form with the products they want and the date and time they want to receive the order or visit your store.
  4. 4. Your business accepts the customer’s order and sends an automated order confirmation SMS.

In case your retail business also operates an online shop, you can easily integrate your form to accommodate for both click & collect and appointment shopping using Routee’s simple plugin. 

For more information on the benefits of click and collect and appointment shopping, Routee’s experts are here to help you out. We have the expertise both to assess your business needs and to help you achieve your sales goals.

Let’s get started!

Optimize your business workflows with Routee's automated forms