Tips & Resources

Shopping by Appointment 101: How it Emerged and the Benefits it Brings

Pohan Lin
By Pohan Lin
26 January, 2023

Shopping by appointment is becoming increasingly popular and offers benefits for both consumers and businesses.

shopping by appointment

Shopping by appointment has become the norm in recent years and has been embraced by retailers and consumers alike. 

Retail scheduling solutions were rapidly implemented to prevent overcrowded stores and maintain social distancing protocols. Stores quickly realized that offering online bookings created personalized services and opportunities - both pre- and post-purchase. 

Although it's not an entirely new concept - shopping by appointment is prevalent in high-end stores that offer personal shopper experiences - this new way of shopping requires some planning. 

During the pandemic, consumers felt more confident going out to shop if they knew they had an appointment booked where there would be less foot traffic and intense cleaning regimes.    

But, it doesn’t only offer your customers the safety and security they require. There are many other benefits for you and your company that make this element of retail definitely worth exploring. 

What is shopping by appointment?

Shopping by appointment is, as the name suggests, a method of scheduling that enables shoppers to book available time slots to visit stores in-person. Either through scheduling software or via calling ahead, consumers can reserve a time slot for an experience dedicated only to them. 

There are a few different options for shopping by appointment slots, such as allowing customers to browse your store at their leisure, or by providing a personalized service from a sales associate. The second option offers a more personal retail atmosphere and gives retailers the opportunity to apply their sales strategy to upsell more products.  

What services do customers want to book appointments for?

Customers typically want to book appointments for:

  • Sales advice
  • Gift advice
  • In-store services
  • Virtual services
  • Personal shopping or style advice
  • Repairs
  • Personalization services
  • Accessibility services (i.e., assisted shopping, wheelchair access, quiet store hours)
  • Click and collect or buy online and pick up in store services

a woman booking a persona shopping appointment using timify booking software
Source: timify

Benefits of shopping by appointment

Shopping by appointment offers customers a safe haven. For retailers, it has meant they could harness more control over their store and plan cleaning to adhere to government guidelines at the time. 

But that’s not all…

Build brand loyalty

Personalized customer experiences, like shopping by appointment, are a solid strategy to encourage brand loyalty. Scheduling your time gives you the right capacity to manage your customers and deliver excellent service to ensure repeat visits and purchases. 

Attracts intentional shoppers

Shoppers that take the time to book an appointment with your store demonstrate serious intent. 

The nature of appointments generates a sense of urgency due to potential limited demand. You can harness this psychology to your store’s advantage by creating social media and website content to encourage shopping appointments. 

Managing stores effectively

Making customers book appointments is a more reliable way to guarantee custom on that day, and if you implement automated email or SMS reminders ahead of time, you’ll experience less no-shows. 

By integrating online appointments, you’re in a better position as a retailer to prepare your store and staff. Whether that’s by optimizing your employee rota or adhering to operational risk management procedures, forewarned is forearmed.  

Better customer experience

Whether or not you offer personal shopping, shopping by appointment gives you the opportunity to showcase your store’s customer service skills. Using new tech like QR codes on boxes and packaging to enable customers to quickly check size and garment information can create brand advocates from the sternest of shoppers. 

Personal touch

Providing a personal touch is definitely one of the benefits of shopping by appointment. Of course, how this looks in practice depends on your store and products, but some examples include:

  • Choosing engagement ring customization options in a jewelry store.
  • Selecting a bridal or bridesmaid dress.
  • Demonstrating features of a new car.
  • Makeup tutorials.

Shopping by appointment gives customers the certainty that they are receiving a personalized experience. You need to gather crucial information and preferences in advance to really make the most of the time you have and to ensure a personalized experience from the moment your customer steps through the door.

This could mean asking for any details of any dietary requirements if you provide food, color options and sizes for dresses, or perhaps ring styles or stone preferences for an appointment with a jeweler. TIMIFY lets you customize your booking form to create different fields, helping you to capture the information you need to know to provide a truly personalized experience.

a couple booking a personal design kitchen consultation using timify
Source: timify

Pre-qualify appointments

During the appointment booking process, shoppers can choose the reason for their appointment (such as wanting to try on some dresses for a cruise). Doing this means that store assistants can prepare a changing area in advance, and offer garments that might complement the shopper’s selections.  

Pre-qualifying shoppers give store assistants valuable insights to stand more chances of converting sales. This method also saves your customers time, too. Assuring your customers that your store can provide what they’re looking for negates aimless wandering.  

It’s all about making it as easy and enjoyable as possible for your customers. Shopping by appointment is a tried and tested approach if you can create a captive audience and the right demand for your products.  

Data capture

Facilitating shopping appointments has the great bonus of capturing customer data and contact information. You can use this valuable information at a later stage for marketing purposes. 

Hopefully, your shopping by appointment strategy will be so successful that you’ll need a Data Warehouse to house your customer data! 

How to implement shopping by appointment

If these benefits have got you thinking seriously about a shopping by appointment strategy for your retail business, let’s consider how to make it happen.


Tech is the first thing to think about. You’ll need a system that interoperates with your existing tech (martech, order management systems, etc). A cloud-based, centralized system with real-time syncing approach is your best option, as it will give both contact center agents and in-store assistants consistent and up-to-date customer information at all times.

Seamless integration with martech is essential to continue customer conversations across different mediums - before, during, and after appointments.   

Appointment type

Decide what type of appointments you want to offer your customers. This will depend on your store, staffing, and current setup. Your options are solo or with an assistant - also consider if you want customers to roam freely or set up more structured appointments. Once you’ve chosen your appointment type, you can cater your space to the customer experience. 

Retail appointment booking software like that offered by TIMIFY also allows you to associate certain services with the essential equipment and/or space in the store needed to provide them. These resources can then be auto-booked every time that service is booked, avoiding booking errors or double booking of rooms or equipment. 

resource scheduling for retailers using timify
Source: timify


Remember - don’t overlook the promotion of your new service. 

Use social media, email, your website, and paid ads to communicate your offering and explain how your appointment shopping slots will work. Social media stories and website banners play an important part in promoting shopping by appointment - why not create short, in-store reels that show appointments in action?

For example, create a marketing email campaign to send to past customers with the information they’ll need and a link to book their appointments. To make shopping by appointment a success, it’s vital that you make it as simple as possible with zero friction. 

Consider pre-appointment questionnaires once your customers have booked an appointment with your store. As mentioned, this is a great way to collect information about your customer to provide a unique and personalized experience. It also means that you can maximize your time with them as a lot of the initial, introductory questions have already been taken care of.


Shifting to shopping by appointment will have an impact on your business’s current KPIs. Some key metrics to pivot to will be average wait time for an appointment, return rate, average time in-store, and overall customer satisfaction. 

In terms of risk, you’ll need to look at Model risk management. This is because significantly altering your store’s current set up could potentially have some adverse consequences, so make sure this aspect is also covered. 

It’ll take time to get the balance right, but by listening to your customers and adapting to their needs, you’ll soon reach a solution that will offer your audience the perfect mix of convenient appointment times and satisfaction with their experience. 

This can cover questions such as, “What is your reason for shopping with us?”, and “Which products are you specifically interested in?”. Clever questions help you to understand more about what customers want to achieve from their appointments - which in turn, will elevate the personal element of their experience. 


Once you’ve nailed your appointment structure and chosen your appointment scheduling software, it’s time to get your team trained up to handle a new way of operating your store.  

It’s a good idea to walk your team through the process and explain in-between appointment procedures, such as cleaning, admin work or re-setting equipment. 


Post-purchase communication is the final piece of the puzzle. Following each appointment, send out a customer survey to understand how the appointment went, and where your store can improve. Software such as TIMIFY can automate the process of sending out feedback forms and gathering and interpreting responses.

Gathering feedback is essential to ensure that you’re delivering the best possible customer experience for customers and maintaining long-lasting relationships.

Some post-appointment communication ideas include:

  • Post-purchase email with a link to a feedback survey.
  • Discount codes printed on receipts in exchange for feedback.
  • “Click-and-share” option on email receipts for simple social sharing.

Questions to consider

To deliver the best experience possible to your customers, think about questions relating to the logistics of offering shopping by appointment. 

Here’s some to get you started:

  • How will customers book appointments? 
  • What happens after customers book an appointment? 
  • Will customers receive appointment reminders? 
  • How long will your appointments be? 
  • What is your cancellation/no-show policy?
  • Will you ask customers details about their interests and preferences before the appointment?
  • How will you make your in-store experience relatable to your brand?
  • How will you engage with customers after they shop or make a purchase? 
  • If customers don't make a purchase, how will you follow up with them?
  • How can customers find you on other channels?

Embracing shopping by appointment

To recap, shopping by appointment facilitates:

  • Personalized customer treatment.
  • More engaged customers.
  • Higher chance of purchase and future repeat purchases.
  • Learnings about your customers.
  • Valuable details for marketing and after-sales information. 

The popularity of shopping by appointment shows no signs of slowing. Combining this with the overarching benefits of shopping by appointment for both consumers and businesses, it shows how implementing online appointment booking should be a no-brainer for many companies operating in today’s retail space. 

Pohan Lin

About the author

Pohan Lin

Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of data warehouses and data lakes to create lakehouse architecture along with Databricks HDFS architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business, and ecommerce growth. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing. Pohan Lin also published articles for domains such as Landbot and PPC Hero.

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