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Social Distancing Measures: Why tensators and ropes don't cut it for the future of retail

20th Aug 2020

The last six months have changed the landscape of retail. The drive for temporary fixtures we saw at the start of lockdown is over and complete. Solutions are now in place for the foreseeable future. But with mixed results on their longevity and appearance, for the first time, retailers have sacrificed their brand for function.
 
Now more than ever retailers should be focussing on gaining back shoppers’ trust. To move retail forward we now have to think about how to respect shoppers’ trust while creating a safe and easy-to-shop environment that is enjoyable for the customer and a real reflection of the brand.
 
Here are Q4’s thoughts on how retailers need to adapt and create long-term social distanced design solutions.
 
Queuing Systems
 
Are tensators, ropes and temporary barriers enough to create an initial impression that says this retailer takes the new normal and the customers shopping experience seriously?
 
As we approach winter, we are starting to see new trials emerge with queuing apps to manage customer traffic better than temporary measures, and technology is key. We’ve already seen Aldi roll out a traffic light system where if on green, shoppers can enter but if red, the entrance is temporarily blocked and customers have to stand in a queue guided by floor stickers. Following suit, Sainsburys and Asda are trialling virtual queue systems where the shopper can take their place on the app then wait in their car until alerted that they may enter the store. A system already seen used by restaurants, can this be the way forward for retailers?
 
We may also see more branded physical queuing systems arrive, as retailers start to understand that long term solutions are going to be needed. These systems could even increase shopper awareness by holding advertising space.
 
Sanitisation Stations
 
There are two camps for the sanitisation area. The first camp has temporary tables with tissues and sanitiser lined up and the second has automatic, freestanding dispensers which are becoming more commonly seen.
 
Primark and Marks and Spencer in particular have invested in these which shows a clear message as you enter the store that they take this as a serious precaution. Although design my differ, the function of sanitisation station highlight to customers that the store is putting their health and safety first.
 
Baskets and Trolleys
 
Clean trolleys and baskets are the next stage in the shopper journey. With measures relaxing, the presence of staff cleaning trolleys and baskets has decreased and instead have been replaced by self-serve cleaning stations for shoppers to do this themselves. Yet, it is at this point in the journey when customers are alert on where they touch and it is important to help them minimise contact to gain their trust. 
 
In July, ASDA announced its trial of a trolley wash facility which works the same way as a car wash. A clever design solution, retailers need to think about how they can ease customers into their stores. Signage, for example, could be key to ease the shoppers’ concerns and explain the cleaning process the retailer has in place helping put the customer's mind at ease.
 
It’s true the last six months have made retailers rethink their design solutions, no longer a short term design fix, long term permanent fixtures need to be implemented. Want to know how Q4 can help, enquire today: https://quantum4.co.uk/contact

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