How stores can help ensure shoppers are safe as lockdown eases

As England prepares for non-essential shops to re-open from June 15, retailers want customers to return, feeling confident that their health and welfare is cared for.

There has been a 350 per cent increase in online searches for ‘retail shops opening’ over recent weeks, while ‘when can retail shops open again’ has increased by 4,650 per cent as a question, highlighting people's eagerness to get out shopping.

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Here are some of the ways retailers can ensure in-store shoppers stay safe.

OnBuy asked security technology firm Bi3 for its thoughts on how shops will adapt to a ‘new normal’.

A spokesman said that if stores can use this period of ‘downtime’ to leverage the technology available - helping them to keep loyal customers, attract new buyers and show that they are doing all possible to protect staff and shoppers while adhering to government guidelines, they can bounce back in strength.

Retailers should take time, conduct market research, and choose a provider that offers solutions including the monitoring of social distancing and enhanced security measures.

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If they can find the right partner, offering a guaranteed return on investment, high street stores will advance into the new technology-enabled era of retail.

Is technology the solution? And how long will it be needed for?

There are technologies that enable the monitoring of occupancy levels, the density of crowds and the use of tailgating measures in a shop.

Each strategy can be personalised to suit characteristics of individual stores, such as size, number of floors and spacing between racks.

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It is important to consider the need for real-time data metrics, as staff will need to act quickly if alerts are triggered.

Will a socially distanced high street work?

A socially distanced high street will be difficult to enforce and to monitor. However, with the support and cooperation of both employees and customers, it can be achieved.

Much like the launching of the NHS contact tracing app, technology will play its part...not only in providing control and data insights, but when building customer confidence that the store is employing multiple means to ensure everyone’s safety.

Ivan Ivanov, who provides coronavirus cleaning services, said: “It is incredibly important that, if retailers want to open and encourage customers to return, they conduct a thorough deep clean from top to bottom.

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“I would recommend deep cleaning services to prevent the spread of coronavirus in a professional way, as some disinfectants and sanitisers are extremely potent and must be handled with care.

"There is also the need for full correct protective clothing to be worn by staff at all times.

“No matter how long it takes, all areas and surfaces, fixtures, shelves, doors, handles, cashier desks, tills, handrails and products that are touched on a consistent basis should be cleaned".

He continued: “It could be that weekly retailers may need to window clean, as well as conduct steam cleaning and pressure cleaning across the site.

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“If customers can see health and safety measures are taken seriously, they will feel automatically more at ease at the prospect of shopping in store.

“If it’s not clear, retailers will continue to suffer from reduced sales.

“It’s a fine balance of course, but ensuring customer safety is imperative at all times.”

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