Ongoing Limitations for Occupant Density Equate to Ongoing Customer Frustrations.
To open their doors to customers, retailers across North America are enforcing continued social/physical distancing measures; the main one is limiting the number of people inside their store at a given moment, aka Live Occupancy. It’s the right move—it’s even a mandatory public measure in many areas. The problem is, it can create additional frustrations for customers.
I recently experienced this myself. I was anxious to get to the pool store to get a safer pool ladder for the family—every summer minute counts when you live in a clear-cut four-season climate! I attempted resolving this issue online but wasn’t satisfied. Further proof that there are some things you still want to experience first-hand: look and feel, sturdiness, ease-of-use, none of which I could assess through my computer screen. So I headed to my trusted local pool store. Not once. Nor twice. But three times. Every attempt saw me coming home empty-handed. Waiting time was simply too long.
The first time there were “only” eight people, but the line wouldn’t move. On another occasion, there were up to 40 shoppers waiting in line! As I got around to reopening my pool, I reinstalled the old pool ladder and decided I would reinforce it myself. It turned out to be a lost sale for the store; and I likely would have walked out with maintenance products for the pool or fresh new decor items for the patio. I’m not alone in making such decisions. It’s a first-world problem, I know, but the fact is that wait lines generally repel most people, and they’ll choose to post-pone or, worst yet, avoid the purchase altogether, rather than “wasting” time in a queue.
Resolving the Issue of Frustrating COVID-19 Queue Lines.
But there is a flip side to the restrictions and newfound frustrations imposed by the COVID-19 crisis. If you’re keeping track of your traffic since reopening, you’ll likely see patterns emerging. Reviewing your in-store traffic will spotlight times of the week when your occupancy is at max level, and others when you could have welcomed more customers
Based on these insights, you can leverage simple, user-friendly tools like Calendly and Acuity to book appointments with customers at specific times, ensuring there is little to no wait time before entering the store. I know I would have chosen this option in a heartbeat and would have adjusted my schedule accordingly. I’d have visited the store once, without having to wait in line for long and returned a happy and satisfied customer.
Improving Customer Experience for Store Reopenings
As a retailer, this is about much more than avoiding queue lines for your customers. By monitoring your traffic numbers and leveraging low footfall periods to book store visit appointments, you can maximize your sales with respect to your store’s current maximum occupancy requirements. It’s also a chance to build long-term customer loyalty and to showcase the added value of your in-store shopping experience.
Now, if booking appointments with customers doesn’t fit your business model—or if you feel it ends up causing you more trouble—you could also let your customers know, live through your website when occupancy is below the maximum threshold. Our Live Occupancy solution ensures this feature is integrated easily.
Challenges are also opportunities to stand out as a business. Oddly enough, ongoing occupancy orders are a chance to make customers feel like VIP shoppers. We’ve all been isolated and feeling the weight of the COVID-19’s impact. Enjoying a user-friendly, warm, and personalized shopping moment would have gone a long way in making my day—my week even. I know for sure that I would have shared the experience with my neighboring pool-managing dads and remembered my positive in-store experience every time I saw friends and family members climbing out of the pool. As the COVID-19 measures carry on—and the second spike of cases is likely to happen—leveraging the combo of traffic insights and in-store shopping appointments sure looks like a win-win situation for both retailers and customers.