Here are Worldpack’s top tips for balancing the customer experience and safety guidelines in store – no matter where you are in the world or what your retail estate looks like.
1. Signage is Key
In a world where guidelines are like moving goalposts, ensuring your messaging is clear and can be easily seen is paramount. Things are different now - the shopping experience, your store layout, your customers’ needs, so make sure you have invested in lots of excellent signage. Think about not only what you customers need to know, but how they are feeling when they come into your store and give them pointers and reassurance. 2020 is the year for emotional honesty, so it wouldn’t go amiss to have massive signs saying, ‘Welcome Back’, ‘We’ve Missed You’ or ‘Keeping you Safe’ in your store.
Make sure you have thought ahead and placed signage where your customers will appreciate it the most. We are all creatures of habit and even the bravest of us who relish change want to ensure the shopping experience is as simple and safe as it can be. You need to be giving customers the easiest route through your store and helping them along the way. If you don’t get it right and they feel unsafe or stressed, these shoppers will revert to online shopping – something they are much better at now, as they had lots of practise.
2. One way systems
If you have implemented a one-way system in your store, have you actually practised being a customer and walked the walk? One-way systems have mostly been developed to overcome a challenge with the footprint of a store. You can’t easily change the shape of a building, but sometimes the new layout ends up being frustrating for customers.
It may be worthwhile see how easy it is to adapt the furniture in-store to give shoppers at the weekend a different experience to those who may be popping in during a lunch hour mid-week, and looking for some shortcuts around the store for those shoppers who are just popping in quickly.
A way of life for most of us now, the 2 metre rule has meant the whole of the world has gotten onto the British fascination with queueing. However, had somebody asked, the Brits could have told you no-one likes doing it. Try and make your queueing experience more fun. Can you invest in artwork or key messaging that you can display so that customers have more brand affinity by the time they get into the shop or to the till? Can you get one of your staff members to go and speak to your customers while they are queueing? They might be able to answer questions, point customers in the right direction, check stock or upsell. No matter what, you will get points for being super-helpful.
4. Click and collect
With the number of people buying online and the holiday season fast approaching, click and collect is more integral to your customer’s store experience than ever before. But what is the in-store experience like for your customer? Is it a streamlined operation or having waited in a queue to come into a store, are your customers having to circumnavigate around the one-way system to pick up products that they have already bought online? Covid has been a game changer in what customers want and expect. If you haven’t already, can you rethink click and collect to make it a better experience, more efficient, safer and better suited to the current climate?
If you can’t, perhaps give the customer a choice. If they want to browse on the way to the ‘collect’ counter, great. If they don’t, could a member of staff act as a runner and get them their package before they have to trek all around the store?
5. Messaging and music
Have a think about what is on your walls and what is being played over the airwaves and make sure it’s tactful and suits the environment. Now is the chance to have a rethink for the times we are living in.
You may find that playing more nostalgic tunes or the Christmas favourites will mean different things for customers this year, who are not sure they will be able to spend time with family and friends. For some brands, creating this atmosphere could be a winning combination. For others, it may be a harsh reminder of what is actually happening outside.
6. Clean and clear
Ensure you have enough of the right sort of cleaning products as we head into the peak shopping season and let customers see your staff using them. Make it clear that you have rotas in place and that you are taking disinfection very seriously. When a customer can see the cleaning in progress, nowadays that is a thumbs up for brand loyalty. It shows you care.
If you can, see if you can get your staff to enjoy the cleaning. It may be the last thing they want to do, but shoppers having a positive experience with store cleanliness and safety means they will appreciate that you and your team are genuinely concerned for their welfare. It may be a small touch, but for shoppers who have ventured out into the shops, it can mean a huge amount and have a lasting effect.
Do your customers understand your returns policy? With Covid, many retailers have had to use extra storage space to leave products that have been returned in quarantine before putting them back out on the shop floor.
Communicating this to customers is a good thing. Apart from focusing a customer’s mind about whether they really want an item, this system highlights the good practices you have put in place. Yet again, you can make the best of this challenge by ensuring your customer is aware of the care you are putting into making them safe.
Make sure your omnichannel offering works so the in-store experience ties in with your customers’ online experience. Where you can, reinforce your messaging and the information about the in-store experience on your website, so your customers know what to expect before they visit the store. Make it easy for your consumers to find the store opening times and information about when would be the best time to visit the store to avoid the busiest times. Explain the store cleaning process online so that before they hit the High Street, your customers are already aware of the thought you have put in, to make their experience the best it can be.
Be proud of the changes you have made and shout them from the rooftops – they are important to hear, not just from a safety aspect, but because they highlight how your brand feels about its customers.
For advice on getting your retail environment in top shape for consumers or for more info on our Coronavirus packages to help in store, speak to our team on +31 (0) 88 494 20 80 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org