It’s been over 60 days since Britain was put into lockdown, resulting in the majority of our customer’s having to shut their physical retail operations. The country has settled into a very different rhythm, living slower and feeling thankful and appreciative of the important things in life that we may have taken for granted before. With the curve starting to flatten, many are now looking towards what life after lockdown will be like and the measures that must be taken to ensure a safe return to normality (whatever that may be!).
Here at Cybertill we have been discussing with our customers and other retail associations about what retail will look like soon. Recently we attended a zoom meeting with the Charity Retail Association along with over 200 attendees from UK charities, to discuss the preparations that could be made to ensure a safe reopening. For charity retailers, the safety of their volunteers is of upmost importance. Other considerations will be on the safety of the donations, and a possible quarantine of donations may become part of their routine to ensure no contamination. You can read and download the CRA’s full reopening pack by clicking here.
Cybertill recently sent a survey to our customers, both retail and charity, and asked for their opinion on what’s going to happen next. Many of the responses did indicate that acquiring PPE and protective shields in-store was vital. Things such as social distancing in-store and ensuring plenty of sanitiser and masks are available for staff will be their priority. Creating a plan for ‘Phased Reopening’ was also suggested. Retailers who may have a large estate of more than 3 stores may want to consider this option, opening stores in phases starting with 1 or a 2, and seeing how things go, before opening the whole estate.
One positive that was highlighted during the survey was the increase in online sales, and how it will be vital for retailers large and small to have a strong online channels including websites, mobile and marketplace and social selling platforms extending their storefront to a post lockdown world; as it is anticipated that the high street will not see footfall return to what it was pre-lockdown. Pre-lockdown retail was already heading to an almost totally online world, and so it’s no surprise that during lockdown multi-channel retail sales soared.
“Retailers in the UK should be looking to build customer confidence before reopening their stores while navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic”
Some retailers are experimenting with how they can provide a good experience to customers going forward. For instance Harrods is going to offer a personalised shopping experience to its most valuable customers. Now, we’re not suggesting that retailers should do the same, but there could be something in having designated time slots for your customers to come and have a browse round your shops, ensuring that you don’t go over capacity and still allows the customer time to browse.
The Business Insider have announced 3 realities that retailers should consider before they can be ready to safely reopen stores:
- Queue management – Allowing customers to pre-book visits and managing virtual queues may be an effective response to the demand post-lockdown.
- Launching click-and-collect services – Click and Collect is an essential part of any omnichannel retailing strategy. Curb-side pick ups may be the way forward to ensure customers do not come into contact with each other.
- Enabling personalised virtual relationships – Video-calling services have seen a huge spike in popularity since the lockdown began, and many are suggesting that this may continue with the younger generation wanting personalised video-shopping calls with retailers.
Taking into account the opinions gathered via our survey, retail press and the Charity Retail Association, Cybertill have created a reopening pack for our customers*. Inside we have included instructions for restarting hardware, logging back on and cleaning tills. In addition to this we are also selling Countertop Shields for our customers to place at the till to create a protective screen between customer and staff.
The retail world may never look the same again, but whatever the new retail world is or looks like, Cybertill will be there to adapt and help retailers through this strange time and be a helping hand for reopening preparations and will continue to support throughout.
*If you are a Cybertill customer, you can get your hands on a reopening pack by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel is passionate about retail and the ever-changing retail technology environment, with a keen eye for upcoming retail trends that are set to shake up the sector.