How to switch to socially distant sales using online scheduling

If your shop is ready to switch to socially distant sales, scheduling can help you coordinate the logistics. 

With this guide, learn how scheduling supports socially distant sales, discover the benefits for you and for your shoppers, and learn how to switch.

How You and Your Shoppers Benefit from Socially Distant Sales
Planning And Setting Up Availability
Planning And Setting Up Communication

How You and Your Shoppers Benefit from Socially Distant Sales

With scheduling, your shop locations and services can be booked by your customers in advance, giving you a system for providing a socially distant shopping or service experience. You can:

  • Ensure your shop capacity isn't exceeded
  • Include buffer times for cleaning
  • Provide priority scheduling for groups like the elderly
  • Provide scheduling for different shop locations
  • Provide scheduling for various services
  • Forecast traffic and staffing needs
  • Verify entry using confirmation emails and SMS as entry tickets
  • Passively receive bookings 24/7 on a fully-hosted online booking page, reduce overhead and admin and remove the need for over-the-phone scheduling

Switching to socially distant shopping gives your customers an experience that promotes confidence in your response to Covid-19. With scheduling, your customers get:

  • Time savings, without having to queue or wait in line or visit multiple shops to find one with fewer crowds
  • Reduced exposure to the virus by avoiding crowds in lines or in crowds in the shop
  • The ability to pick their preferred time to shop directly from your online booking page
  • Confidence that they are guaranteed a shopping time slot when they schedule
  • Reminders including a calendar event, email and SMS so they don't forget their time
The bottom line: When using online scheduling, shops and service providers don't have to eliminate sales or service offerings to support social distancing. 

This guide will help you use to rapidly switch from your old model of sales to socially distant scheduling.

Plan and Set Up Your Scheduling Solution

Every shop is unique, and your shop's switch to scheduling requires planning to make sure what you set up in supports your specific needs. For each part of your scheduling solution, first plan around your needs, then set up accordingly.

Planning and Setting Up Availability

Decide what your open hours will be. If you offer shopping hours for special groups, make sure you exclude these hours from your general public open hours. Once you've determined this, set the Availability on your booking page to match your open hours.

When planning for availability, you also need understand your shop's total person capacity. Ask questions like:

How many shoppers can you have at one time?

Once you've determined your capacity, set up the Units Per Slot feature on your booking page. Currently, supports up to 50 shoppers reserving a shopping trip at the same time. 

Example: The Yard, Phoenix

"We allow 4 appointments per hour, each for an hour duration. This enables us to have enough social distancing and time to properly sanitize community spaces in between customers. Without a user-friendly interface like we would have had to take valuable programming resources during a very hectic time and implement an entirely new was easy to implement, fast and also customizable to our company's needs." – Marie, The Yard

Are there other locations that need scheduling?
If you have multiple locations, determine the capacity of each location. How many shoppers can you have at each location?
If your capacity varies between locations, create a booking page for each location and set Units Per Slot for each location's booking page to match the limit of the location.
If your locations can have the same number of shoppers at each location, you can use the Appointment Types feature to list all your locations on one booking page and set the Units Per Slot feature on the page to the capacity for all your locations.
Are you supporting special groups of shoppers?
If you have reserved shopping hours for specific groups, make note of these hours which may be unavailable to your general customer base.
You can set up a unique booking page just for special groups of shoppers. This booking page would only have availability during the hours available to the special group of shoppers (if you've ensured your general booking pages do not include these hours).
Will you be offering services?
If you offer services, make a list of the services and their duration.
For example, if you offer bike repair services, you can list the services you offer as Appointment Types. For each service, set the duration for how long the service takes to complete.
One customer (Tip Top Bike Shop) started by first making a list of everything their customers might visit for. Using Appointment Types, they then converted this list into services that could be booked.
Example: Tip Top Bike Shop, Oakland

I just figured out what people are coming in for and made categories – test riding a bike, buying a part, getting a service estimate. I also added a question on the booking form asking “what do you need” so that way I have an idea of what the person is coming in for and I can be ready to make the transaction faster. It’s helped a lot to streamline the process and also to just stagger customers coming in the shop.” – David, Tip Top Bike Shop

Planning and Setting Up Communication

Communicating your changes in shopping process is just as important as setting up your availability on your booking page. This might look like an A-frame sign outside your shop, a banner on your website, and an email sent by to your shopper just after they book.

Here's how to plan and set up communication for your new booking system. Ask questions like:

What is the most important thing a shopper needs to know before booking their appointment?

Use the "Booking page intro" feature to share a message with shoppers visiting your shop's booking page. This section of the page displays before a shopper books a time to shop.

Will you be requiring shoppers to show their confirmation email to enter the shop?

When a shopper makes a booking, sends them a confirmation email. If you need to check that shoppers are entering at their scheduled time, this confirmation email can be used as a ticket to enter the shop. If you use this method, shoppers will need to be reminded to have their email ready to show before entering. 

The Socially Distant Sales Booking Page Template booking form includes messaging that reminds shoppers to be prepared to show their confirmation email for entry.

You can set up the booking form to include instructions to the shopper alerting them of this requirement.

Once the shopper confirms their booking, you can show them another message on the "After Booking" confirmation page reminding them to be prepared to show their confirmation email to enter the shop. 

Other messages

If you have other messages the shopper should know about, you can communicate them throughout the booking process.

For example, if you require shoppers to wear masks and stay distant from other shoppers, you can include this message on the "After Booking" confirmation page and in emails sent after the booking is made.

Example messaging on the Socially Distant Sales Booking Page Template After Booking confirmation page reminding shoppers to show their confirmation email and observe safety measures while shopping.

Sending Notifications After The Booking

After a shopper schedules their booking, they can receive emails, SMS/ text messages and a calendar event to remind them of their appointment. Each of these can be customized with your specific messages.

The confirmation email sent to a shopper when using the Socially Distant Sales Booking Page Template. This is an example of how confirmation emails can be used to grant entry into a shop.

Make Sure Your Shoppers End Their Shopping On Time

Without a reminder, it's easy for shoppers to spend more time than they are allotted for their reservation. Use's notifications workflow to send an SMS reminder right before the shopper's reservation ends.

Telling Shoppers About The New System

To get the word out about your shop's scheduling options, you can share your booking page on your website by linking directly to it. You can also embed the booking page directly into your site, send a link to your booking page via email and share it on social media. 

You can even place a QR code of your booking page in your signage to make it easy for foot traffic to find your booking page and reserve a shopping time.

Example: Milwaukie Floral, Portland

"We decided to open up just the Greenhouse/Nursery portion of our store to customers who wanted to book 30 minute time slots and shop privately - or with people they were quarantining themselves with. I use YouCanBookMe normally to schedule wedding consultations and meeting with clients and absolutely love it. I just thought, how easy would it be to quickly set up another calendar and link it on our homepage. Then we advertised via social media and spots started booking up. We made sure the booking email gave all the specifics for our particular situation; Make sure to me mindful of your time slot, bring your own gloves and mask if you feel they are necessary.” – Cory, Milwaukie Floral

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