Lily Banse, Unsplash
HOW ARE YOU DOING?
We hope you are all keeping well amidst this challenging period.
The impact COVID-19 has on retail, especially fashion retail is brutally harsh given that things have not exactly been rosy to begin with. The circuit breaker measures threw retailers into the deep end, and truly tested the survival nature of our industry.
The sad truth is that not all of us will come out of this, some retailers may be forced to shut, and some forced to pivot and change the model of business. Retail as we know it, may not even return to be the same again.
More than ever before, the digital channels in retail have proven to be an essential instrument for success.
We have witnessed some creative ways of selling during this period - F&B retail have gone into hyper collaborative mode to work around regulations, retailers who aren't able to open their shops to customers, have turned to Facebook Live to engage with customers and even to sell their products. Money Max and Gain City are among two prominent brands we have seen do this.
(If you are keen to ride the wave of this sales/marketing channel, we found this article to be quite useful.)
Blake Wisz, Unsplash
As a team, we have always subscribed to the believe that omni-channel retail is more than just having a website and a physical store. The magic happens when you build both onto a system that allows inventory and marketing strategies to work seamlessly between the two.
Doug Stephen, more commonly known as the Retail Prophet, wrote in his book Re-engineering Retail that physical stores today should not be seen as a mere channel for sales, but a media channel.
It doesn't matter where the transaction takes place. It is connecting with the customers, and delivering the experience where it matters, and thereafter leading the customer to make the transaction with you; whether through the web store or in the physical store. Shopping is an emotional experience, and we should capitalise on the motivations of a consumer. (Get in touch with us to find out more about how you can go about this.)
PREPARING FOR RECOVERY
After the circuit breaker is lifted, how can we increase shopper confidence again, how can we communicate our brand ethos and regain the momentum of shopping physically again.
Taking a cue from cities that are re-starting their economies in the face of reducing infections, but prior to a vaccine or any proven immunity, a common thread is "safety before sales". The fear of resurgence is imminent. Retailers who are re-opening their stores, need to put in place safety protocols that safe guards shoppers as well as staff members.
These are some of the measures that we can consider doing to reflect that priority, to allow returning shoppers to feel confident:
1.) Pre-entry Checking Station
With Gov.tech's contact tracing app, "Safe Entry", this would help digitise contact tracing greatly, and would only require a QR code to be scanned via a mobile device. An alternative terminal will need to be in place for shoppers without a mobile device. Alternatively, you may wish to prepare manual forms with contact information and entry time.
Having a station outside the retail store would provision for that. In addition, temperature taking and supplies like gloves and sanitiser for shoppers prior to entering the store definitely helps as well.
If you have a wide store entrance, you may need to consider re-zoning your fixtures to have a controlled entry/exit flow plan to be able to conduct the pre-entry checks more efficiently.
2.) Taking care of Staff Members
Equipping our staff members, and protecting their well being is equally important. So have supplies of masks on hand for them, conduct and track regular temperature checks, have protocols in place to ensure they are able to work within safe distances of colleagues and etc.
3.) Floor Stickers for Social Distancing
Store in Warringah Mall, own source
We have seen this in F&B outlets as well as supermarkets at the moment, and this can be introduced in our queue systems for fitting rooms and at payment counters - to remind shoppers to queue at 1.5 metre distance of another shopper.
4.) In-store Sanitization
It is difficult to imagine a physical fashion store without fitting rooms, but this is what some reopening cities are looking to do - close changing rooms in the mean time. Whilst we are not sure what guidelines our local authorities will set in place, protocols should include regular cleaning of the changing rooms, and even the use of air sanitisers within the change room.
Alex Motoc, Unsplash
Lastly, communicate these efforts and affirm shoppers of the measures put in place to ensure a safe shopping experience. This can be done with electronic direct mail (EDMs), or through signages in-store.
We hope this helps you in preparing for the re-opening of your stores come June. Again, this might be done in phases but we hope to be able to rebuild retail again soon. Retailers Market is currently working on getting some of these items manufactured and we will have them available in our web-store soon.
We are looking forward to reopening soon, and engaging with all of you again.
In the mean time, stay safe, keep faith!