How to prepare for Social Distancing in Retail

female customers getting paper bags at counter desk

As lockdown begins to ease and shoppers begin to emerge from a 3 month long retail hiatus, retailers will need to adapt to social distancing in a retail environment. Here are a number of steps to prepare and adapt for the change:

1. Social distancing in retail means you have to expect lower footfall

Retailers have gotten used to footfall that has for all intents and purposes, fallen off a cliff. As lockdown eases, don’t expect that footfall to rebound in any consistent way. You might get an initial jump in footfall, but that could easily fall away with restrictions coming back in response to another outbreak. the footfall you do receive will have purpose. There will be a greater propensity to shop with you, but you will need to consider point 2 below – a good proportion may not enter your store.

The most likely and easy outcome is to bring in fewer retail staff. It makes sense. There is less footfall, so fewer staff is needed. The end result there is loss of jobs for your staff, but for your business it has a wider impact. You stand to lose corporate knowledge from the experts that will lose their jobs.

To counteract this, and take a more positive stance – Retailers will need to innovate. Retailers will need to find a way to confer with shoppers if they are not inside the store, but want to get in.

2. Plan for fewer people in your store, but more hovering outside

Social distancing in retail creates an environment where shoppers might want to get in the store, they might even have a clear desire to purchase – but they simply can’t get in. Savvy retailers are already innovating in this space. Encouraging customers in the cue to call ahead or visit online with a preorder is the name of the game here. But how do you avoid disappointment of those coming to the store with a purpose, and not being able to walk in an fulfil that need?

Confer with provides a solution where customers can interact with retail staff that are remote from customers – even just a few meters away.

With shoppers in a line outside, there is nothing stopping your in store experts from conferring with shoppers via a video call. You need to equip your staff with:

  • Great visual merchandising tools
  • Clienteling infrastructure to help manage a relationship
  • Immersion tools to supporting customer needs

Expect your website traffic to continue to be higher

Amongst all of this, consumers find a way. They go to your website. Savvy retailers have beefed up their online ordering and set up click and collect. This should stem the tide.

But there is an issue.

Some people, before they buy, need human interaction. Some shoppers need to ask questions, they need the reassurance from someone they trust to make a purchase. A website doesn’t do that.

Others still need to to touch and feel a product before they buy. They need to immerse themselves in in the product, or the retail experience.

Retailers need to plan to find a way to facilitate that interaction. Failing to do that can add risk to your operation. Consumers are missing that important step in the decision making process. Empowering your retail staff with tools that enable this interaction, even at a distance will make a huge difference to converting that traffic to a sale, or importantly driving them back in store.

Confer with have a range of tools that allow you talk with customers outside of your store, while your staff are inside your store. Request a demo today.

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