The latest lockdown restrictions may require customers to book an appointment in order to be able to visit a store, depending on your location.
Even aside from Coronavirus rules, declining footfall in retail stores was already an issue for the industry.
As a result, retailers have been working on a variety of concepts to incentivise customers to visit or interact with their stores, such as personalised shopping services or virtual consultations.
TIMIFY’s system specialises in online appointment booking and resource management and can therefore play a key role in meeting the current challenges faced by retailers and many other types of business.
Challenges for businesses:
- Customers must be able to book an appointment at any time, across all devices and touchpoints.
- Where limits on in-store capacity exist, retailers need to maximise the potential number of visitors allowed in store, while also ensuring safety by accurately monitoring customers in the store at any one time.
- Hygiene measures must be implemented and clearly communicated to protect customers and staff.
- In the event of a suspected infection, contact details must be traced quickly and in detail.
- New incentives must be created to bring customers back into branches, such as unique experiences or personal shopping appointments.
Advantages of TIMIFY
TIMIFY allows you to create an appointment strategy for any type of business, from managing customer footfall to coordinating shopping by pre-booked appointment, and even the ability to book video appointments as an alternative to a store visit.
Below we look in more detail at how TIMIFY helps address the challenges of re-opening stores after lockdown.
1. Regulate visitor numbers according to store size
TIMIFY allows you to set a maximum number of visitors and their length of stay, which can be applied to specific time slots during which people can visit your shop. This helps to avoid overcrowded premises and queues at the door.
Depending on the scale of your store(s), there are three ways to control visitor numbers with TIMIFY:
Create individual resources in your TIMIFY account that can be booked as an individual customer visit. For example, if only five people are allowed to shop at the same time, create five resources. Now create a new service (e.g. Click & Shop) and assign it to those resources. Customers booking the service can now reserve one of the five resources available. If all resources are booked, no further appointments are offered.
Create a group booking and set a maximum number of allowed participants. For a store with differing sales departments or floors, create separate group bookings each with a limit of, for example, 30 people. Replicate this group booking at the intervals required throughout your calendar to create a series of bookable shopping appointments with managed capacity.
Find out more: How to create group bookings.
Our Book & Shop App makes coordinating visitors to your premises even easier. Customers receive a QR code after booking which can be scanned at the shop entrance. This automatically checks the customer in for their timed shopping session, and checks them out when leaving. The app lets you monitor customers currently in store and makes later contact tracing simple.
Find out more: The TIMIFY Book & Shop App
Entry control in your shop
With all three options, customers receive an email confirmation after booking and can show it to staff on arrival. All customer and appointment details are viewable in your TIMIFY calendar, allowing you to keep track of bookings via our tablet app. The tablet app can also be used by store staff to manually let customers waiting without an appointment to take any free slots.
2. Personal shopping appointments
In addition to booking general access to your stores, many retailers also use TIMIFY to offer personal shopping experiences and appointments.
Customers book an in-store meeting with staff, with the option to allow customers to choose specific staff members if required.
Implementation is simple: create your staff members as resources in TIMIFY and set their availability for booking. Now create a service (e.g. Personal Shopping Appointment). Customers can now book that service with available resources for a unique in-store experience.
Add additional Data Fields to your booking form to gather key customer data and preferences in advance, allowing staff to have everything ready on arrival. For example, request clothing sizes or a refreshment they would like during the appointment.
Find out more: Examples of personalised shopping appointments with TIMIFY.
3. Virtual queueing
The best way to avoid overcrowded waiting rooms is to have visitors book their appointments online in advance. This helps reduce drop-in appointments to only those who need them.
The TIMIFY Q App is a system that allows those drop-in clients without a booking to seamlessly find and book an appointment slot within the existing schedule of pre-booked appointments.
Drop-in visitors have the option of scanning a QR code on arrival, which assigns them a booking slot and places them in a virtual queue. The client can now monitor their remaining wait time, and receive a notification when it is their turn, directly on their smartphone.
This gives drop-in clients the crucial advantage of being able to avoid crowded waiting rooms and wait off-site for their appointment, even running other errands in the meantime.
Find out more: TIMIFY Q app
4. Automatically schedule hygiene measures between appointments
Our ‘Prep and Follow-Up Time’ function lets you automatically schedule times before and after every booking, varying the set-up for different services as required. This is ideal for ensuring time for hygiene measures such as cleaning or ventilating facilities always takes place, as well as helping to reduce unnecessary client crossover between appointments. These buffer times are automatically blocked out between every appointment and are only visible to staff in the calendar.
Find out more: ‘Prep and Follow-Up Time’ for appointments
5. Record customer contact details
For any kind of booking, from booked shopping slots to personal shopping appointments, TIMIFY records the contact details of your visitors. If a situation arises where contract tracing is needed, you have an easily exportable record of which customers and staff were in-store and when. In addition, you can set customer data to be automatically deleted after a certain period of time, in order to comply with data protection laws.
6. Offer services online through video conferencing.
In some cases, your business may be able to offer services online. TIMIFY takes the strain of organising these online services, by auto-creating a video call when a booking is made and including the link to join in appointment confirmations for customer and staff.
TIMIFY can be synchronised with Zoom, GoToMeeting or our own video meeting solution TIMIFY Meetme. Simply create a specific service for virtual appointments and everything from booking the appointment in your calendar to creating all the joining details takes place automatically.
Find out more: Offer virtual appointments via video call.
7. Easily communicate your Coronavirus measures
TIMIFY is easily integrated into all of your communication channels, with functions such as QR codes allowing you to direct customers from digital and print materials to information about your Coronavirus measures. You can also use the TIMIFY booking profile page as a mini website for your bookable services, letting you add details for customers to consider before attending.
The better you communicate, the easier it is for your business, staff and customers to feel safe and comply with the current regulations.
8. Avoid in-person payments
TIMIFY offers the option of letting your clients pay in advance online, as they are booking their appointment. You can choose to make this optional or mandatory for different services.
We partner with STRIPE for this service, one of the leading online payment platforms for SMEs, which can be easily integrated with all TIMIFY subscriptions, including the free version.
Looking for a solution for your multi-branch network?
For customers with several branches, we offer many additional functions to our Enterprise version, such as our Branch Manager for centralised management and monitoring of all locations, or our system for selecting a preferred branch as part of the booking process.
Contact us via the live chat at the bottom right of our website to arrange a video call with our consultants. We look forward to hearing from you!