April 30, 2020 / Industry

Retail Strategy Post COVID-19 – Creating safe, hygienic environments

You only have to look at remote working and the way we are all currently communicating to see that, in many industries, we have seen that our current situation has dramatically accelerated progress that was taking place anyway.

The same is true of retail. There are two clear ways in which retail will develop moving forward – 1. An increase in respect for the safety of individuals and our communities and 2. The role of retail in regards to customer relationships.

Now that we have done what is necessary to pause in the interest of peoples wellbeing, it is essential to focus our vision on how we can create safe and relevant environments for life as we transition out of and eventually move past COVID-19.

This first article explores how we can adapt retail environments to ensure that your staff and customers both feel safe and are well protected in your physical spaces.

Approach

Your storefront, signage and window displays will still be an excellent opportunity for brand awareness and to attract new customers. It is reducing substantial traffic gathering outside the store and entering the space that we need to address. Online booking and in-person ticketing systems can be used to help to spread traffic flow evenly. We will still need to answer the question – How can we make the best of often limited space to help people to queue safely?

Entrance

The most important thing is that we are taking every measure to create safe, hygienic spaces, but the customer needs to know about them so that they feel safe and reassured. Be sure to communicate these measures on the entrance to the store.

Addressing this as early in the journey as possible will ensure that as many potential customers know you are offering them a clean space to interact with your offering. Offering complimentary hygiene products will play a key role.

Flow

Creating a clear, guided journey will allow customers to move around the store constructively while reducing the likeliness build-up of congestion and contact that can occur with random traffic flow.

Clear communication

Clear messaging when it comes to navigation, brand and product has always played an essential role in retail. Remember, this is a situation in which customers will rightfully be preoccupied with their health at the same time as learning which brands they can trust to take this responsibility just as seriously.

We need to ensure that moments designed to communicate messages or information are genuinely engaging, singular and crystal clear to ensure they are as likely to be digested as possible.

Test & Play

Traditionally in retail environments, displaying a full range of products has allowed the customer to both see what is on offer and interact with individual items.

Due to the challenges that this presents in regards to hygiene, in these new circumstances, displaying the range and allowing testing are likely to become two separate, distinctive moments. It is important to remember that both remain essential and important to the decision-making process and are interactions that work best in physical space.

In most instances, test products are simply examples of the products themselves. Now brands will need to think about how their stock can be easily adapted to become single-use or reusable, sustainable testers – paired with contactless digital technology and well-trained staff who can communicate individual products attributes.

Consultation/Treatment

Given that these moments often require close, personal interaction, we need to take every measure to create sterile environments. We also must ensure that both staff and customers are given appropriate equipment that can allow treatments to be carried out safely

Again communicate these measures clearly, so customers feel safe and reassured.

Payment & General customer interaction

In any area in which staff interaction is essential or important, but close proximity is not required, create areas with physical barriers, so customers are safe in the knowledge there is no chance of accidental contact.

Use screens where necessary but where possible stick to barriers that create distance without creating a negative impact on face-to-face interaction.

Final Product selection

Touching products presents a likely situation in which double contact can occur. It is easier to ensure that staff are well trained and equipped to carry out packaging products safely, where possible, remove physical product selection from the customer’s role. In instances in which this is not possible, offer additional safety and hygiene measures to customers to keep them well protected.

Flexibility

While initially as customers we will feel safer and more reassured by these measures, the fact is that many of them remove the personal connection that we can find in physical environments that get lost in digital interactions.

By ensuring that any measures can be dialled up as required and down when it is safe to do so, we can create environments that are both as safe and enjoyable as they possibly can be.

Of course, all of these considerations will become an essential part of our future collaboration with brands.

If you would like to explore how these guidelines can be applied effectively for your brand in one or all of the areas covered, please reach out to team@sheridanandco.com