Retail Readiness: 5 Tips for COVID-19 In-Store Safety

April 9, 2021

The COVID-19 outbreak forced temporary shutdowns or reduced operations for many brick-and-mortar retail stores. When government restrictions eased, retailers reopened stores with new measures to inform and protect their shoppers. It continues to be crucial for retailers to take precautions and ensure that consumers are protected and comfortable shopping in their stores.

Since last summer, more retailers have adopted measures that move shoppers through their stores safely. This includes paying special attention to the in-store safety measures such as:

Face Masks
Mask-wearing compliance is near-universal for shoppers and employees. Face mask detection technologies are also being implemented by many retailers to further build consumer confidence beyond the basics of offering hand sanitizer at store entrances or other locations within their stores.

Retailers primarily use signs to inform and remind customers of precautions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. To serve shoppers better, retail stores should add more signage to doors, entrances, fixtures, and sanitizer stations wherever they are located.

Social Distancing
Stickers, arrows, and barriers are used to ensure social distancing and prevent bottlenecks in high-traffic areas of stores. Retailers and small stores can improve traffic measures by moving obstructions and changing some high-traffic and narrow spaces to one-way. Many retailers have also started utilizing social distancing sensors to further ensure compliance and in-store safety.

People Counting & Analytics Solutions
Retail stores are increasingly using technology to create a frictionless, convenient, and safe experience that meets their customers’ expectations. In this ongoing public health crisis, technological solutions are effective in protecting the health of your customers and your employees. The benefits of these solutions will survive even after the pandemic ends. It makes sense to invest in technologies like queue management, zone analytics, real-time occupancy, and people counters to limit store capacity and improve the overall customer experience.

Positive Messaging
Some retailers stand out from the crowd by warmly welcoming customers to their stores, using bright and cheery signage, embracing mask-wearing, and other safety practices. With an eye on the post-pandemic future, retailers should look for ways to create a brand-authentic and hopeful in-store experience for customers.

Rising to the Challenge
Retailers have largely demonstrated their commitment to ensuring consumer safety by implementing and enforcing recommended practices from government authorities. The top retail performers, however, do not only provide basic safety precautions, but they also create a positive and even uplifting shopping experience that makes consumers want to keep coming back to their stores.

Many retailers are continuing to rethink the in-store experience, removing obstacles that impede store traffic and, in some cases, providing more hands-on — but still socially distanced — attention. And they’re continuing to move to a more frictionless transaction model with contactless payments, as well as expanding their online order fulfillment options to include curbside pickup and other delivery options.

All of these practices ease consumers’ fears and present a helpful, optimistic brand face. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done by many retailers to improve their traffic flow, invest in retail analytics technologies, and introduce positive messaging. With the aid of modern technology and some good old-fashioned safety practices, retailers can improve their response to the new normal with a commitment to keep their customers and employees safe as the pandemic nears its final stages.