If the last couple of months have taught us anything, it’s that we all need to take care of each other – businesses, communities and individuals. This is certainly true of retail – we’ve already seen grocery store associates rightly classified as key workers, and the stores that provide us with what we need to get through taking a leading role in modelling safe practices and social distancing.
As retail gradually reopens, these measures are very likely to be in place for some time, and even when we fully come out the other side, they will still need to be available for switching on and off when we’re faced with a similar situation in the future.
How ‘safe retail’ works will naturally vary by each sector – beauty and cosmetics retailers have in-store hygiene surrounding testers and how to provide contactless makeovers at the top of their list, while home and furnishings stores will be considering how to talk customers through big-ticket purchases remotely and luxury brands will be looking at virtual concierge facilities and at-home VIP services.
Of course, a number of retailers across all sectors have already made headway with safe fulfilment, extending vital click and collect services to include ‘buy online, pick up at kerbside’ (BOPAK) options. At least one major outlet in the US has announced plans to make BOPAK a permanent fixture, and customer demand will ensure that others will follow suit.
Five key elements for ‘safe retail’
While sector-specific concerns will dictate the details, there are five key elements which will ensure ‘safe retail’ across the industry:
1 Footfall management with virtual queueing and pre-arranged visits
This will help to control customer numbers in-store, and make it easy for them to maintain safe distances while they shop
2 Flexible fulfilment including BOPAK and runner options
As mentioned above, these simple extensions to existing services will immediately reduce contact and lessen risk
3 Virtual clienteling and appointments with remote payments
This will allow retailers to confidently ask advisors and store associates to work from home when stores are closed, knowing they won’t be sacrificing the quality of their customer experience
4 Integrating contactless concierge consultations and services
This gives luxury retailers in particular the opportunity to maintain service continuity and offer true VIP treatment delivered to their customer’s door
5 Colleague tools to deliver a socially distanced yet personalised shopping experience
This will play an essential part in giving store associates and customers much-needed peace of mind while in-store
It has never been more important for retailers to evaluate the robustness and flexibility of their in-store platforms to handle these vital changes, and to get the ball rolling now to make sure they have the right tools in place. It’s the only way to ensure stores reopen safely, and that ‘safe retail’ is a central feature for the future.
Dan Hartveld has a global reputation for excellence in the field of mobile retail. He has developed award-winning, first-in-class commercial solutions for leading retailers including Topshop, Burberry and MasterCard. Known for his expertise in the practical application of innovative technology to achieve measurable results for retail, Dan is a...