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Best Buy tests online shopping alternative: appointment shopping

Stores like Best Buy and Kendra Scott are asking people to make appointments to ensure social distancing is maintained.
/ Source: TODAY

The days of walking into a Best Buy on a whim are over⁠ — at least for now. As the retailer prepares to reopen some of its locations, shoppers will be asked to make an appointment to ensure each store doesn't become too crowded.

“Customers will be able to schedule appointments with Blue Shirts or Agents for their tech essential needs. Since each customer’s appointment will have a dedicated sales associate, there will be a limited number of customers in the store at any one time to ensure appropriate social distancing takes place,” Best Buy said in a blog post.

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As some states ease stay-at-home orders, a number of stores around the country also told TODAY Style they plan to ask customers to make appointments before coming to shop.

In Texas, 23 Kendra Scott locations will reopen to customers who make an appointment in advance online before visiting the jewelry retailer. And they won't be able to just walk in. Customers who have appointments will need to ring the doorbell outside the store, where they'll be greeted by a stylist and taken inside to shop. They are asking everyone to wear masks.

The retailer is also offering curbside pickup if customers would prefer to shop online and pick up their purchases in the parking lot.

"We are thrilled to offer these new and innovative ways to engage with our customer during this unusual time," Kendra Scott, CEO and founder, told TODAY. "While we so look forward to the day we can open the doors of every Kendra Scott store again, our curbside pickup and in-store shopping sessions programs allow us to serve our customers best, while keeping their health and safety our top priority."

Amy Minkel owns two Fleet Feet stores in South Carolina. The running store is also asking customers to make appointments, but said it would accept walk-ins as long as there are no more than 12 customers in the store at any given time.

There will also be some adjustments to the level of customer service.

"We no longer do what some consider 'the little things,' such as assisting the customer with putting shoes on their feet," Minkel told TODAY. "We also strictly adhere to state guidelines for the number of customers allowed in the store, which means there are times we have to kindly encourage customers to leave the store after they have finished their shopping so that we can allow for the next round of customers to enter."

While making an appointment may be the new normal, at least for now, Minkel said she's looking forward to reopening her business and serving customers.

"As with many small businesses, closing our in-store operations has impacted our revenue and staffing needs," she said. "We’re making difficult decisions every day in regard to which products and services we’re able to maintain, are working through staffing changes, and looking at places we can continue to trim expenses until things start to stabilize."

At least 49 malls are also set to reopen this weekend. Simon Property Group announced plans to reopen malls in ten states, with social distancing being enforced.