Over the next few weeks, businesses are going to have to find creative ways to reopen with COVID policies still in place.

One of the big challenges will be finding a way to work around social distancing, i.e. maintaining six feet of space between your staff and customers at all times.

While scheduling apps have traditionally been used for service businesses like hair salons and fitness studios, we’ve seen an upward trend in retail businesses using our booking platform to help them meter the number of people coming and going at any given time. Here are just a few ways retail businesses can use an online scheduler like Schedulicity to let customers safely into their space during the pandemic.

Clothing Retailers Can Offer Personal Shopping Experiences by Appointment

If you’re a small local clothing boutique, you can use an online scheduling app like Schedulicity to set up personal shopping appointments, 1:1 or with a limited number of people at a time in the shop.

Real example: Posh Franklin in Franklin, Tennessee is doing 1:1 shopping experiences in 45-minute increments.

Larger Retailers Can Use the Class Feature to Meter Customers

Whether you’re a bookstore, grocery store, a furniture retailer, or even a plant nursery, you can use a scheduling app to create “classes” (usually used by fitness studios, but hey, it’s the new normal) to meter the number of people allowed in your space at any given time. It’s just like making an appointment β€” customers can pick their ideal time, then head in without having to wait in a longggg 6-feet line. That’s going to feel especially appealing as the weather warms up.

Real example: Sunnyside Gardens in Minneapolis, MN is offering one-hour shopping increments for avid gardeners. Same but different, Bicycle Roots in Brooklyn, NY has various “services” (i.e. shopping windows) with different time limits depending on what you want (25 minutes to shop for bicycle accessories, 125 minutes to shop for a new bike “if you don’t know what you want”, etc.)

Use an Appointment Scheduling App for Low-Contact Retail Pickups

Allow people to buy your products online, then select pick-up as their delivery option. When they’re order is ready to go, you can send them an email letting them know that they’ll need to book a time to come pick up.

Real example: Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, MT is doing this with the following instructions: Once you’ve been notified that your order is ready, select a time block to pick up your order. Your order will be labeled with your name and placed on a table either directly outside or inside our front doors for contactless pick up. Easy as that — no dealing with busy phone lines, missed calls, or phone tag!

Use a Scheduling App for Drop Off or Delivery Appointments

If people typically come into your shop for help with something like repairs, and you want to offer a way to come to them…yep, you can use a scheduling app for that. You can even set up different services and prices for different zip codes and times of day so you can plan your routes. We could see this being a great way for people to schedule laundry pick-ups and more.

Real example: Block Bikes in Portland, OR lets people schedule bike pickups and bike dropoffs for repairs within the same zip code, which is pretty neat.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve seen retail businesses use online scheduling and online appointments for their needs during quarantine. Schedulicity has waived all its fees until July 1 for any businesses who are interested in signing up to try us, so if you’d like to test out how to use us for your own retail business β€” give us a shout.