With the latest lockdown measures, a new normal is evolving: virtual appointments and video, virtual services and virtual experiences. Here is a primer on virtual appointments, including the rationale for moving forward during lockdown.
What is a virtual appointment?
A virtual appointment is a bookable appointment that is fulfilled remotely by either chat, phone or video. There is no travel required to attend a virtual appointment, so it can be done from the comfort of your own home. As a result, it acts as a viable alternative to going in store.
Why would you set up a virtual appointment on your website?
An e-commerce director might be sitting there saying – we have a website, they can shop there! Why would we need to do virtual appointments? There are a number of reasons why virtual appointments are both desirable and necessary.
In 2020, a big one has hit: social distancing. It’s now necessary to keep people out of your shops. As a result, for people who would ordinarily come to a store, a virtual appointment is necessary. Covid 19 has accelerated the push online of groups that would ordinarily come into a store.
The purist e-commerce operator will continue to say: use the website, but you can’t discount the importance of the migration currently happening to online.
Structural retail decline relative to online has been accelerated by social distancing
In the last 10 years, online sales as a percentage of total retail have increased from 6.2% of all retail sales to 19.5% at year-end 2019. Month end July 2020, this has risen to 28.1% (ONS Retail statistics September 2020). Its clear that covid-19 has accelerated the decline of retail – 17.2m shoppers have moved from retail to online as the preferred shopping channel (Retail Economics).
That migration for consumers that are used the the retail environment to make decisions can be jarring.
The prevailing argument for supporting these customers is the same argument used for migration to e-commerce for years: guiding people through the journey is better than leaving them to their own devices. It’s a better customer experience.
There is also another key reason: a virtual appointment facilitates instantaneous understanding of customer needs, and instant response to those needs. A website is self service, a virtual appointment is full service.
Confer With supports virtual appointments
A seamless customer experience is now possible by linking virtual appointments and video commerce. The Confer With platform connects to appointment software and the facilitates a branded video call between a customer and your retail team.
The benefits of using Confer With are multifaceted. Setting up a video call enables high levels of engagement. A
Seamless integration with appointment and scheduling software means the user experience is enhanced. Importantly: Confer with integrates with your e-commerce platform, which means during the call:
- Your retail team can demonstrate products that are in stock even if they are not in store
- They can suggest alternatives based on a recommendation engine to improve conversion
- Cross sell products to increase average order value
- They can assist customers by putting items in the shared virtual basket.
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