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Online booking of entry slots and fitting rooms among the innovations shoppers want to see when they head back to the High Street

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As retailers in England get ready to re-open their doors, a survey finds that shoppers are going to tentatively return to shops in the coming weeks, but they want the experience to be very different to how it was pre-lockdown, with online booking of access to stores.

The survey by online scheduling and customer engagement platform,  Appointedd, finds that 79% of people are more likely to visit shops that limit the number of people in store while  the availability of hand sanitiser (84%) and capacity management (71.5%) are shoppers main requirements to feeling safe in store. 

The stats point to a clear shift in how comfortable people feel re-entering physical stores, with 55% of them not expecting to return to their normal shopping habits when non-essential shops re-open. A quarter go as far as to say that they don’t think they’ll ever return to the same level of in-store shopping.

Encouragingly, though the majority of shoppers still expect to spend the same amount as they did pre Covid-19 (57%). 

Store capacity is vital in the return to retail strategy for all brands. Although 65% of people polled expected the shops to be quieter than normal  79% of people said they would be more likely to visit shops that limited the number of visitors in store. Furthermore 75% of shoppers would rather book a guaranteed entry time rather than join a virtual queuing system. 

Concerns around shopping safely in-store were of high priority. When asked how shops can make customers feel more safe, hand sanitiser (84%) and capacity management (71.5%) ranked highest, but interestingly bookable fitting rooms (26%) outranked PPE (25%). 

With 17% of respondents saying they would shop less but spend more, online is clearly a key area for growth. Shoppers are signalling that they are ready to engage across a number of channels, even within a single transaction. 76% said that they would like to reserve or buy an item online and then book a guaranteed click and collect time. And 20% of respondents indicated that they would be interested in attending a virtual shopping experience on Zoom, either by themselves or with friends. 

So, what is the “new normal” for retail? Judging by the results of this survey, two actions are clear. Shoppers want online access to a full, omnichannel suite of retail services, and, where shoppers need to visit a physical store, queueless shopping is essential.

As an online booking and scheduling solution, Appointedd has been working closely with retailers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to develop digital solutions that allow customers to shop safely both online and in-store. This has included adding new features to manage capacity limits to facilitate the government’s social distancing regulations, virtual shopping experiences, queueless entry to and retail by appointment.

Appointedd Founder and CEO Leah Hutcheon, explains: “We have seen a 250% increase in enquiries from high street retailers who are struggling to translate the government’s covid-secure guidelines into a safe and enjoyable shopping experience. Through our partnerships with retailers such as Mamas & Papas and Moss Bros, and our strong focus on delivering exactly what retailers’ customers want, we have developed our offerings to meet the new social distancing requirements, including capacity management and QR code queueless entry.”

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