How are businesses, both retail and service, dealing with maintaining social distancing while governments impose lockdowns and restricted movement? Is a system that facilitates multi-attendance booking online a socially responsible compromise, in exchange for the lifting of lockdown measures?
In many countries and states, supermarkets, pharmacies and medically related services are the only businesses allowed to open. However, they are also subject to reduced traffic flow to maintain the social distancing required. When lockdown finally eases, the ‘non-essential’ shops and businesses that will reopen will need to devise a method of maintaining reduced customer contact.
Scheduling Shopping – Not as difficult as it might seem
The spread of coronavirus has affected all of us, giving up freedoms we have taken for granted for so long. However, the spread of disease, the dangers it poses to friends and family, and the problems that uncontrolled infection could cause has made many of us willingly surrender these freedoms.
Scheduling appointments for services has always been the way to go – you don’t find hair salons, doctors or fitness centres with a queue that stretches down the street because they can only accommodate a certain number of clients.
With new restrictions on the number of people that can be in a supermarket, and still maintain sensible social distancing, that is happening with grocery shopping. Would it be so ridiculous to implement a booking system for this period of restricted movement and contact?
It isn’t a ludicrous concept, and it could be a way to improve the shopping experience in the upcoming months.
Who Benefits From Sequential Multi-Attendance Booking Systems?
What is better, turning up at a supermarket without an appointment and standing in a queue with a lot of strangers (2 metres apart, obviously), or making an appointment from home, arriving right on time, and simply walking in with your ticket?
I think the answer is clear.
Everyone benefits. Those who can’t book an online slot benefit from shorter queues. Those who can book online gain from shorter shopping trips, ease of access to supermarkets, and guaranteed safe distance between shoppers. The stores benefit from knowing exactly how many people can book an appointment, reduced queues in their car parks, and improved safe staff deployment.
Supermarket Shopping – Reducing the Queues
Most of the world is exercising a restricted movement regime, and supermarkets must reduce their capacity to a fraction of the usual customer flow. This restriction is leading to poor traffic flow, queues outside supermarkets, and lapses in safe social distancing.
While it’s ideal to limit entry to an enclosed supermarket, the ensuing queues create large gatherings outside the store. Gatherings that are otherwise banned. A more effective way to manage customer flow, social distancing, and shopping management is to allow customers to book a specific time online when they will do their grocery shop.
Other Retail – Prove your dedication to customer safety
As restricted movement eases into controlled social distancing, other retailers will reopen. When that happens they will need to use the same social distancing measures that supermarkets have implemented. Reducing the safe number of customers allowed inside and ensuring a fair distribution by setting limits on the time in-store.
Malls and large shopping centres will have to give a lot of consideration to their customer capacities. Aimless wandering around the mall might not be an option for the near future.
Services – Stay strong and make a few changes.
With a planned and safe exit from total lockdown, it will allow services businesses to open again. However, they may find themselves in a “new normal” way of working, to maintain specific standards of social distancing, for a long time ahead.
Some businesses could have maintained a working relationship with clients in an online capacity. If so, they may decide to stay online or create a mixture of online and in-person services for the safety of staff and clients. (You can see an example of how a music school has taken its drum and guitar lessons online here)
Scheduling meetings, sessions have always been an essential part of the service industry. However, for the foreseeable future, online booking will be a vital tool.
Some businesses that might have to adjust their practises are those that welcome many people at once. Such examples are places like gyms, restaurants, and bars. Sure, these businesses will open again, but they will still have to observe certain levels of space and reduced interaction. Have you ever been to a gym where all the machines are at least 2 metres apart?
A Simple Solution
At SimplyBook.me, we want this crisis to pass safely and with a significant reduction in infection. The only way to do that is to keep contact minimal and adhere to expert guidelines on social distancing. With that in mind, we created the sequential multi-attendance booking system for scheduling shoppers when social distancing is necessary.
The sequential multi-attendance booking system is ideal for allowing a defined number of customers to do their shopping in a particular time-slot. No queueing. Customers can book their time-slot online, from the safety of their homes. A reminder will ensure the customer arrives on time, enters the store with a printed ticket or smartphone screen, which a door-person can scan with no touching necessary. Then all they have to do is select their items in a safely distanced environment, pay, and go home again.
No One Loses
Okay, it’s not the unfettered freedom of choice and movement to which we’re accustomed. However, it is a fair compromise for the reopening of stores and businesses and returning to work. Not to mention allowing our collective economies to recover. A sequential multi-attendance booking system to keep shops open, staff and customers safe, and restrict contact with other people is the only way to streamline shopping trips in this challenging time.
We all benefit from shopping in a socially responsible and efficient way.