Virtual retail appointments

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How to set up a winning virtual appointments operation for retail

Confer With, March 12, 2021

The changing retail landscape is without question driving consumers to shop online. Here at Confer With, we work with companies to set up one-to-one live stream shopping calls. The technology behind live stream shopping is video commerce.

Video commerce combines live video with data from retail eCommerce websites, making the items in the video call shoppable. It's super powerful for retailers who are getting fewer people into their stores, or for retailers who want to reach remote customers.

We spend a lot of time helping plan and manage remote selling teams who are focused on driving revenue for retailers. Big or small, managing a remote team for live video shopping channels requires excellent operational management.

In this article, we identify how to set up a winning virtual appointments team so you can focus on the thing that matters most — customers.

Why live video shopping matters

A couple of years ago, live video shopping was often associated with the likes of QVC and HSN, targeting the older demographic. However, it’s now making tremendous growth in the eCommerce landscape and among younger generations. Since 2019 China has seen accelerated growth, with the biggest player being Taobao, where 60% of Chinese shoppers watch at least one live shopping stream on the platform.

Large video streaming channels can include celebrities and influencers, but it’s the emotional connection between virtual shopping and physical interaction that consumers are looking for. This is where one-to-one video shopping and Calendly meet.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased this demand in the US. Amazon, Facebook, Instagram and Walmart are key players pushing this growth, with Amazon Live expected to claim the title “king of eCommerce.”

That’s why we’re encouraging businesses to take hold of this growing demand and come to grips with innovative technologies that can easily be navigated.

Why setting up virtual appointments is crucial to your team’s success

Although virtual appointments sound like a self-service tool for the customer to set up, it requires thought and planning.

Areas that often encounter barriers are:

  • Determining who takes the appointments

  • Converting customers over video shopping

  • Motivating your team remotely

Your team’s desired outcome is to manage a fully operational virtual appointments system while remaining passionate about the products they sell via video shopping streams.

How to manage virtual appointments in 3 simple steps

To achieve operational success, these steps will enable a seamless video shopping experience for your customers and team.

Step 1: Decide who takes the call

Take a look at your team and identify who’ll be a great fit for taking virtual appointments. If not possible due to conflicting commitments, there is an opportunity to outsource professionally trained video selling teams. Below are some examples:

  • Retail Teams

  • Customer Service Teams

  • Outsourced Video Selling Teams

Key factors to consider when delegating appointments

Retail Teams

Pros

  • Broad understanding of product knowledge, customer profiles and KPI’s.

  • Great way to motivate during store closures.

  • Enhances professional development.

  • Upselling and cross-selling means personal targets are easily achieved.

Cons

  • Training for virtual appointments is needed.

  • Customer service training for video shopping needed.

  • Resources: can their home connection handle video calls?

Customer Service Teams

Pros

  • The know-how guys in customer service! They will know what to say to achieve those outcomes.

  • If already working remotely, shifting to virtual calls would involve fewer onboarding challenges.

Cons

  • Selling skills may need improving.

  • Will need to balance time between customer service and video shopping.

Outsourced Video Selling Teams

Pros

  • Great way to upscale brand using video savvy teams.

  • Strong in influencing customers.

Cons

  • Costly.

  • Will need to teach them product knowledge.

  • Unaware of brand values and mission statement.

Depending on how mature your retail business is, quite a few may not be applicable, and that is absolutely fine! Regardless of who takes those important calls, your team can lead the business to success by following these key tips.

Step 2: Train and Motivate Your Team

Training on how to book and manage virtual appointments will help minimize technical mishaps. Coaching your team will help create a holistic customer-centric service while improving job engagement and retention. Here are the key areas to focus on.

Booking appointments

No intense crash courses needed here! Your remote team can easily navigate the virtual appointment booking system. At ConferWith, we highly recommend using Calendly’s Round Robin. Here’s a couple of reasons why:

  1. Optimize for availability. When a customer sends out an invite, they will see the pooled availability of all assigned team members. And if all team members are free, appointments will be allocated to members with the highest priority (this can be changed in admin settings).

  2. Optimize for equal distribution. If one team member has enough appointments already, their availability will remain hidden for the customer.


Most importantly, appointment setting allows you to plan resources to the demand of your customers. It paves the way for a frictionless and transparent service between the expert and consumer.

Product knowledge

Lets stray away from virtual appointments for a moment.

Kevin Stirtz, the author of More Loyal Customers, once said:

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”

Retailer’s KPIs focus on increasing conversion rates and average order value (AOV). With in-depth product knowledge, team members can navigate consumers through an intricate product matrix.


The ability to guide customers from one product to another while addressing the shopper’s needs attracts high-value customers who are appreciative of excellent services.

Selling skills

Aggressive selling doesn’t work and customers can become overwhelmed with marketing messages. Communication, active listening and empathy are often overlooked traits when talking with a customer, but they’re incredibly important to learn.

Video selling skills

Your team may be experts in selling skills, but not so much in video selling skills. It’s important to consider each format and ensure they are up to scratch on both. If utilized well, video can create a wholesome community with loyal customers.

For example, Sheri Hensley, a humble 45-year-old, streamed live from Mississippi to 800 people back in August 2020. During the Livestream, watchers commented in real-time, humanizing an online community that usually thrives in real life. After just two hours, Sheri and her two employees modeled 50 items and generated around $25,000.

Through a professional and inexpensive set-up, Sheri engaged with her audience using excellent selling and video skills.

Which prompts the question, how can your team engage with an audience?

Make products shoppable

If a customer sees a product they want, you need to reduce the friction to purchase. Confer With integrates product feeds and a shared virtual basket so your team members can seamlessly showcase products based on recommendations and consumer needs — and make them shoppable.

Step 3: Room for development

Finally, with your virtual appointments team, there is always room for development. Whether that is onboarding new members or allowing top performers to inspire profound tips, development is crucial to reduce work fatigue.

Through effective reporting, key metrics can be identified to coach teams on increasing conversions and AOV.

Hopefully this journey has highlighted the importance of live video shopping in today’s landscape. Your business can boost conversions and operational excellence using effective virtual appointments planning.

Equally, building a well-equipped team requires continuous training and guidance in navigating the video shopping realm.

For more on how Confer With can help your business set up live video streaming and advise on virtual appointments, schedule a free demo today.

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Confer With

Confer With lets your team give customers the support they need to make a purchase, improving the customer experience and increasing brand loyalty in one go.

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