Thoughts on Click & Collect for small business

So this blog is a bit of a departure for me and results from (virtual) conversations with friends and family. As I write on Nov 1st 2020, England is about to go into a new lockdown (whatever, it’s officially called) and “non-essential” shops are required to close but can still offer click & collect services.

As an IT Trainer, you might wonder what this has to do with me, but the conversations led me to believe that my knowledge can benefit some business owners, hence this blog. We can all support our local businesses by STILL shopping with them, but how to do it?

Click & collect services basically allow you to browse and conduct the transaction virtually and then collect on an appointment basis. So you need a fancy website to sell through, right? Wrong, all you need is email and a phone. And you can take it to the next level with Office 365 Business tools, Teams & Bookings.

In the last lockdown I wanted some cheese for a special meal, normally we’d go to our local cheese shop. We rang the shop, discussed the order, paid over the phone and arranged collection in a “COVID secure” manner.

That works for cheese, but what about business that rely on you seeing the products, like craft and gift shops.

Method 1 – Email

  1. Customer Emails/Phones with request
  2. Business sends email back with photos & details
  3. Customer sends email with selection
  4. Business can now phone customer to take payment or request payment with an online service such as PayPal
  5. Business emails customer to confirm purchase and arrange collection

Method 2 – Microsoft 365

  1. Initial query via website chat / email / phone
  2. Business takes a video of the products, as if in the store, share it from their OneDrive to the customer or arrange a Teams call for the customer to have a virtual look around the shop to browse
  3. Purchase can be agreed via email / chat / phone with a digital payment
  4. Send the customer a link to the business bookings page so they can book a click and collect slot

Microsoft 365 – Considerations

The method I’ve proposed would work on even the cheapest Microsoft 365 business plan and can obviously be adapted to use other meeting, file sharing and appointment booking tools, some of which are free to use. So the set up costs are minimal or none.

Teams needs to be set to allow anonymous users to join your meetings and you need to set up Bookings. Both are quite simple to do if you are your own administrator or for your IT support to do for you.

Teams & Bookings both run from mobile apps or web browsers. So it’s quick to get started.

The Techy Bit

To configure Teams to allow these virtual browsing appointments check the following settings in Teams Admin.

In Teams Admin Center under Org-wide settings -> External access make sure both options shown are on and that the domain list is empty.
In Teams Admin Center under Meetings -> Meeting settings make sure anonymous users can join a meeting is switched on.

Next set up Bookings. First you need to specify your business

You now need to got through the settings and finally publish your page. I recommend starting with Business Information at the bottom of the side menu and working your way up the menu to the booking page where you can finally publish your page. If you want more details on how to set it up and how it works before you start have a look at the information and video on Microsoft Docs site here.

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