As state governments reopen their economies and shoppers flow back into stores, the desire for normalcy will be strong among management, workers, and customers. The question is, are you ready to face the long term challenges of promoting social distancing and infection control that eases the fears of customers?
As a retailer, you must not lose sight of the fact that many customers will have serious reservations about shopping again and will not experience a sense of “normal” for the foreseeable future. Working against you is the relentless news cycle and frightening predictions of a second wave of the virus that continue to discourage many nervous shoppers.
One thing is certain, shopper behavior has changed forever and the temporary safety measures you’ve implemented over the past several weeks will remain in place for some time. The next battle you must wage is the permanent changes within your store that will give customers and workers the confidence they can safely enter without anxiety or trepidation.
Retailers who make customers feel most comfortable and safe are going to win this invisible war. However, this will require much more than simply taping an “X” on the floor at your checkouts.
With this virus, it will not be possible to make shopping and working a zero-risk affair. But you can lower that risk by enhancing safety measures in many areas. This will require a commitment to a “Retail Renewal” of your store environment to meet the realities of a world living with the Coronavirus.
There are three critical aspects of their operations which retailers can proactively address to build a line of defense to keep customers and workers safe:
- Customer Flow
- Checkout Areas
- Customer Safety
Many of these areas have been part of the initial reaction to the pandemic but a deeper dive is necessary for long term mitigation.
The first step in Retail Renewal is redirecting customer flow to create greater separation which encourages natural social distancing on your sales floor. This is the most important weapon against this silent enemy. You invest a great deal of time and energy developing plans to guide customers to the point of purchase, now you must add the variable of infection control to that equation. Here are five strategies to consider as you overhaul the customer flow in your stores:
- Aisle Realignment: Creating more space between aisles to promote proper social distancing between customers is essential in the new shopping environment. Aisle realignment is an efficient and effective way to achieve this.
- Construct Half Wall Dividers: Building permanent half walls at strategic locations establishes barriers to control customer flow and can create more locations for gondola and displays.
- New Signage Installation: Placing new directional signage to guide customers more efficiently through their journey and reminding them to follow safety guidelines.
- Product Planogram Resets: Leverage product planogram resets to alter the customers buying journey and creating greater spacing in high traffic areas and departments.
The checkout lanes of your store are the most problematic areas for creating a safe environment as you renew your store. Space is at a premium and keeping customers six feet apart will be a constant challenge. This may seem an impossible task with the footprint limitations but it is necessary to find a solution to keep everyone safe as they congregate while waiting at the checkout. Here are steps you can take to improve safety and to enhance customer experience:
- New Technology Installation: Many tech companies are introducing new contact-less products and software at the checkout to reduce infection transmission and streamline the transaction experience.
- Installing Queuing Line Fixtures: Guiding your customers through the checkout process with a queuing line system allows you to create social distancing and offer more impulse sales opportunities.
- Checkout Counter Refit: Your existing millwork and checkout counter configurations may need an overhaul to produce more space and a more efficient transaction process.
- Install Sneeze Guards: A well designed sneeze guard that provides a barrier between associates and customers is an inexpensive and practical way to build trust and keep everyone safe.
- Electrical & Data Relocation: Repositioning the locations of point of sale equipment like registers, card scanners, scales, and beverage coolers are areas of opportunity to promote healthy shopping.
At the heart of Retail Renewal is customer safety. It’s very likely you’ve implemented the immediate, reactive safety measures throughout your store such as hand sanitizing carts, floor markings and temporary signage. But to give your shoppers a higher sense of security, permanent safety measures must be implemented in key areas. The expectations for cleanliness and surface sanitation are more important than ever and will be front of mind for the foreseeable future. Here are some of the most important steps you need to consider as part of a comprehensive customer safety strategy:
- Hand Sanitzer Stands and Safety Kiosks – Freestanding hand sanitizer stands, gloves and masks to fight virus transmission will be a common element at many store entrances in the next few months.
- Shopping Cart Sanitizing Stations: Many stores now utilize greeters or cart retrievers to disinfect shopping carts between use; an automatic shopping cart sanitizing system is an idea whose time has come.
- Automatic Door Openers: In many cases, a typical restroom door can be retro fitted with automatic opening hardware that allows a hands-free entry and exit.
- Touchless Door Hardware: Restroom door hardware can be converted with no touch handles and foot openers that are designed to minimize contact points.
- Automatic Restroom Dispensers: Public restrooms have always been the focus for infection control and now is the time to upgrade with automatic dispensers or replace old units.
Achieving Retail Renewal that customers can immediately see is critical to your future. There is nothing new about these safety measures. Each of these strategies and techniques are very familiar to retailers; you may have some of them already in place. But developing a comprehensive safety program to combat future transmission of the Coronavirus is important to the regaining the business that was lost during this horrible economic paralysis.
Let DisplayMax Help Create Your Retail Renewal Plan
DisplayMax also has the knowledge and experience to assist retailers to stop the spread of the Coronavirus through our Retail Renewal Services program. Our goal is to help you overcome the unique challenges you face as this pandemic plays out. We are all breaking new ground as we find our way to the “new normal.” Learn more what the DisplayMax team can do to create a safe and healthy environment which customers and workers can trust. Click here to learn more about our Retail Renewal Services. or complete the form below and we will respond promptly.