OnBuy.com found that there has been a 350% increase in searches for ‘retail shops opening’ over the last 30 days alone, whilst ‘when can retail shops open again’ increased by a whopping 4,650% - highlighting just how eager Brits are to shop.
However, it is clear shoppers need assurances to ensure their safety when shops reopen. OnBuy therefore spoke to a leading security technology firm Bi3 to provide their thoughts on how shops will adapt to a “new normal”.
How can retailers ensure in-store shoppers stay safe?
If bricks and mortar stores can use this period of ‘downtime’ to leverage the technology available – helping them to keep loyal customers, attract new buyers and show that they are doing everything possible to protect staff and shoppers while adhering to government guidelines – they can bounce back better than ever.
Retailers should take time, conduct thorough market research, and choose a provider that offers solutions including both the monitoring of social distancing and enhanced security measures. If they can find the right partner, which offers a guaranteed return on investment, high street stores will advance into the new technology-enabled era of retail.
Is technology the solution? And how long will it be needed for?
There are technologies that enable the monitoring of occupancy levels, the density of crowds and the use of tailgating measures in a shop – each personalised to suit characteristics of individual stores, such as size, number of floors and spacing between racks. It is important to consider the need for real-time data metrics, as staff will need to act quickly if these alerts are triggered.
Will a socially distanced high street work?
A socially distanced high street will be difficult to enforce and challenging to monitor. However, with the support and cooperation of both employees and customers, it can be achieved. Much like the launching of the NHS contact tracing app, technology will play its part not only in providing control and data insights, but when building customer confidence that the store is employing multiple means to ensure their safety.
OnBuy also spoke to Ivan Ivanov who provides Coronavirus Cleaning Services:
“It is incredibly important that if retailers want to open and encourage customers to return that they conduct a thorough deep clean from top to bottom. I would recommend using deep cleaning services to prevent the spread of coronavirus in a professional way as some of the disinfectants and sanitisers are extremely potent and must be handled with care. Not to mention, full correct protective clothing must be worn at all times.
No matter how long it takes, all areas and surfaces, fixtures, shelves, doors, handles, cashier desks, tills, handrails, and products that are touched on a consistent basis should be cleaned. It could be that weekly retailers may need to window clean, as well as conduct steam cleaning and pressure cleaning across the site.
If customers can see health and safety measures are taken seriously, they will feel automatically more at ease at the prospect of shopping in store. If it's not clear, retailers will continue to suffer from reduced sales. It's a fine balance of course, but ensuring customer safety is imperative at all times."