Executive Briefing

Will appointment-based shopping take off as retail reopens?

Safety first. But a better customer experience, too?

This newsletter is late because I’ve been shopping.

Specifically, as I sat down to start writing this today, I had just finished a virtual appointment, conducted this afternoon via FaceTime, with a manager at an A.P.C. store in Los Angeles. 

Over the span of 37 minutes, I toured the Parisian brand’s current collection, got a bit of style advice, and talked textiles. And after confirming sizes on A.P.C.’s website, I ordered a shirt and pair of pants that I’d been shown — both on sale! — for the summer.

APC appointment marketing email

It’s been more than two months since I’ve stepped foot in a retail store, and I miss it: The relaxing aimlessness, the thrill of discovery, and the experience of carefully curated places, including their design and even the background music. Retailers miss us, too. Total US retail traffic during the second week of May was still down more than 90% year over year.

But as stores start to re-open, as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions ease, I’m also not particularly eager to rush back, and I don’t think I’m alone. The idea of touching items and sharing questionable airspace with other random people still feels riskier than it’s worth. (No offense, but I fear your droplets!) And as stores limit capacity to maintain social distancing, the last thing I’d want to do is wait in a long line for the experience.

One thing that keeps coming up as part of a solution is the idea of appointment shopping.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my twice-weekly, member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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