After weeks of lockdown, many European countries are already preparing for the de-escalated reopening of their stores and businesses. These pandemic months locked down at home will probably influence our psychological and shopping behavior. So what will the new normal in retail look like? With the passage of time we will see if this new normal stays or disappears. For now, we bring you the trends, new measures, and habits that are expected to happen. We also recommend that you read the first, second, and third articles that we recently wrote so that you have a complete vision of how the pandemic has influenced the retail world that we know.

PHYSICAL RETAIL STORES

New measures carried out for post-covid reopening

A. HYGIENE

    • Protection equipment

Despite the fact that there is no established regulation, the vast majority of businesses worldwide have implemented protection measures such as screens, face shields, signs reminding of the safety distance to maintain, etc.

    • Gloves and masks

The vast majority of shops will open their doors requesting their customers to use face masks inside the establishment. In addition, their shop assistants will also wear it, as well as gloves. In some cases, they will even wear protective face shields. Hydroalcoholic gel to disinfect hands will also be available for customers inside the stores.

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    • Temperature control

There are smart solutions for taking the temperature. They can be placed on walls or ceiling and measure up to three meters away if someone has a fever. Through a tablet that one of the shop assistants will carry, individuals with a higher temperature than normal will be displayed so that the responsible of the store can take the appropriate measures.

    • Regular daily cleaning

Daily disinfections will be carried out to keep the establishments as clean as possible.. In some establishments, they assure that they will do it up to twice a day.

B. CAPACITY

    • Reduced capacity

In order to keep the safety distance, the capacity is reduced to one person for every 10 or 20m2.

    • Controlled capacity

The shop assistants and the private security of each store will be in charge of counting the people inside the store. The counting will be carried out manually or automatically and the capacity will even be shown on digital screens that are visible to everyone. They will also remind those clients who do not comply with the safety distance to respect it.

    • Booked appointment

Luxury stores will organize the visits of their most exclusive customers through prior appointments.

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C. REDISTRIBUTION STORE SPACE

We do not know if the current measures will remain over time. However, a possible scenario is that the pandemic is recurrent and stores have to adapt their spaces to possible emerging regulations.

    • Wider aisles

Everyone knows that both, big brands and small local businesses try to make the most of every square meter of their stores. If the pandemic or consumption habits are influenced by the stigma of the pandemic, commerce, in general, will be forced to create more open spaces to facilitate social distancing. One possibility to optimize square meters may be the augmented reality or another type of technology that manages physical space differently.

    • Established customer flow

Another possible measure is to organize customer flow in stores. In this way, brands could create routes in a single direction to order this flow. Augmented reality can also play a very important role in this possible trend.

D. DELIVERY

    • Robotization
      • Throughout these weeks of lockdown, both, the private and state postal services have continued to work. In Spain, Correos (the state-owned company providing postal services in Spain) registers a percentage of infected every1000 workers, seven times higher than the rest of citizens.
      • This would be a compelling reason to accelerate the implementation of delivery with drones. However, the legislation of many countries does not allow this yet.
      • In the US, the drone delivery company Wing has made deliveries since last year. During the lockdown, they have distributed more than 1000 deliveries in two weeks. In this way, users are happy with the speed and availability to receive their purchases. At the same time, businesses have been able to continue working despite the unfavorable situation.

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Source image : Dezeen

 

    • Fast delivery
      • Retailers have to find ways to make fast shipments just like Amazon Prime did before the pandemic. During these weeks of lockdown, purchases through ecommerce have increased a lot and have slowed down delivery times Even Amazon Prime is taking up to a week to deliver Prime packages. Never seen before.
        It will be vital that in the near future, ecommerce companies can meet the demand. And they have to do it efficiently and quickly.

E. RETURNS

    • Returns quarantine

It seems like that the Coronavirus lasts 48 hours alive in tissues. For this reason, large retailers such as Mango, Desigual or Zara isolate for 48 hours returns and clothing that customers try on in the fitting room and reject.

    • Disinfection
      • Ultraviolet light

UV radiation is divided into three wavelength ranges. UVC waves can destroy the DNA of microorganisms so it is used for disinfection. For years it has been used for the disinfection of water, air, and other surfaces. In many stores it is already being used to disinfect the material for sale.

      • Steam hotter than 63ºC

According to biologist Santiago Campillo, the virus is destroyed at 63ºC for 4 minutes. Or at 90ºC, one minute is enough. Therefore, the steam of a 1500 W iron or more is enough.

      • Ozone

Ozone is the most effective natural disinfectant out there. It is 3,000 times more disinfectant than chlorine and 7,000 more than bleach. Its controlled use does not imply health risks and respects the environment. Small and large businesses around the world already have this system to disinfect clothes and other products.

F. PAYMENT

    • Contactless payment systems

Card and mobile payments have become widespread as a security measure. As we explained in our last post about the security measures taken by supermarkets, the use of contactless payments makes customers feel safer.

        • Decathlon: self-checkout app solution

Decathlon stores in Germany already use a mobile self-checkout app that avoids queues, crowds, and contact when paying for their items.

    • Self-checkout

According to a study carried out by the technology company Shekel Brainweigh Ltd, American consumer habits have changed during the pandemic and yields these data:

          • 87% of consumers prefer to make payments through contactless systems
          • More than 70% of consumers already use this system
          • 75% use self-checkouts to pay for their purchases

Despite the fact that it was already a growing trend, the global pandemic will surely accelerate its implementation in the retail sector.

    • Click-and-collect
        • The online shopping and “Click and Collect” system has increased worldwide. For example, in the UK the use of this service increased by 35% during the lockdown.
    • Automated AI stores
        • The AiFi chain uses artificial intelligence systems with sensors that record data such as weight, image, and price. This convenience chain has a fully automated system where customers pick up the products they want to take away and are automatically charged without having to go through the checkout.

      • The well-known Amazon has 25 supermarkets in the US with the same technology.

Many experts think that the Coronavirus pandemic will accelerate the implementation of more stores with this format and technology.

G. TECHNOLOGY

The fear generated by the pandemic will probably remain latent in the future. For this reason, we believe that technologies that facilitate purchases while minimizing contact will experience an acceleration that will be supported by the prompt implementation of 5G.

    • Smart fitting rooms
        • As we already told you in our Phygital post, smart fitting rooms can be a solution to minimize the chances of contagion in the retail sector. These smart mirrors provide technical product information as well as styling tips for those same products without the need to even try them on. It also has touchless technology so it is not necessary to touch anything.

 

      • QR, RFID, etc. for product sheets
          • The pandemic urge to touch products as little as possible will have a technological response. QR code systems can offer technical or inspirational information just by scanning it with your mobile. Although it is already used in a moderate way, its use will surely grow in the coming months.
          • Zara already started using QR codes with augmented reality technology last year.

 

H. PERSONNEL REORGANIZATION

Online departments will grow in relation to departments related to physical stores. Therefore, store workers will be reassigned to online departments to lighten the tension of this channel. Virtual assistants will increase to expand the digital shopping experience.

I. LOGISTICS, STOCK AND MANUFACTURING

    • Multipolarity in global manufacturing
      • It has become clear that China should not be the world factory for the vast majority of companies. The shortage of raw materials and parts has put the global economy in check, leading to countless economic losses. Other emerging countries will back up at the manufacturing level. Nonetheless, there will also be companies that invest in regional models with added values such as security of proximity.
    • Optimization and technology in stock management
      • Investment in softwares that analyze demand and markets in order to anticipate possible future needs and avoid stock breaks, will definitely increase. During this global crisis, the shortage of medical devices, the lack of parts and pieces, etc. have shown that in general, many things have to be improved so that this does not happen again.

 

J. ADVERTISING

    • Product placement boom
      • After weeks of lockdown, pre-recorded audiovisual media is one of the great winners of this crisis. That’s why live advertising has decreased. However, advertising will continue and product placement in movies and series will be more popular.
    • Remote digital experiences

      • Live streaming of product demonstrations as well as chats to answer questions etc. will attract much hotter traffic and much more willing to buy than before.

NEW PURCHASING BEHAVIOR

How will the COVID-19 pandemic influence purchasing habits and the new normal in Retail in general?

    • Online sales will be a survival requirement

      • In pre-pandemic times, selling online was already a regular buying habit for a large part of the world’s population. Throughout this pandemic, we have observed how e-commerce companies have been able to survive the transactional slowdown that many other non-digital businesses have suffered.
        • Primark loses £ 700 million a month

The brand’s strategy has always been to attract the public to their physical stores. They have always argued that positioning themselves in fast retail with very low prices, does not give them margin enough to sell online. Hence, they do not have an e-commerce like their other large competitors. Primark is an example of how non-omnicanality can have a devastating effect today.

    • Omnicanality

      • The onmichannel strategy will experience an acceleration in its implementation. Purchases can start in the online store to be finished off in the physical. Even the shop assistants will be able to generate orders from the physical store so clients receive it in the comfort of their homes. The “Click and Collect” service lets the user to place the order at home to physically pick it up at the store. The goal is to not miss any opportunity to close a sale by providing the consumer with a 360-channel digital and physical experience.
    • Shopping in neighborhoods will increase

      • Being locked down for weeks and having had to stay in the vicinity of our houses, has gotten users to be used to shop in their neighborhoods. Further, surely there will be an increase in active solidarity as the economy of many countries will collapse.
      • Furthermore, the fact that a product comes from a far country can make the consumer think that the handling chain has been long. Therefore, many hands have touched it. This collides with the consumer’s need to know that the product is safe.
      • Consumers will avoid crowds of large chains. This will also help small neighborhood businesses.
    • On-going promotions

      • Lack of liquidity and accumulated stocks will force the retail sector to launch aggressive and on-going promotions and discounts.
    • Safety and hygiene will be imperative

      • Society at a general level will keep the idea of living, buying, eating, etc. only in places that comply with the highest hygiene and safety conditions.
      • Everything related to health and wellness is sure to become a trend.
      • The packaging and materials used to manufacture products will be affected by the pandemic. The adaptation of these to antibacterial solutions will also be booming.
      • This is the data of online transactions by sectors. We see how those who have experienced a great boom as well as those who are less favored, respond to the concept of Maslow’s theory. This theory reflects the hierarchy of needs where until the deficit needs of the base of the pyramid are not met, the higher needs cannot be met.

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    • D2C booming

      • The high demand for home deliveries saturated the capabilities of many supermarkets to respond to this demand. The distribution sector was not prepared for this change in purchasing behavior. An example is Mercadona. The leading supermarket chain in Spain with a market share of almost 25%, was forced to temporarily suspend its delivery service as they could not guarantee good service.
      • D2C (Direct to Consumer) has taken advantage of this opportunity, and many manufacturers are selling directly to the final customer, bypassing intermediaries.

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We do not know for sure how this new normal in retail world will develop in the coming months and years. What is clear is that the COVID-19 pandemic will have short and medium-term effects worldwide. We will have to closely follow how consumers respond and the strategies that the sector will adopt to face the new needs of a world that has been beaten by an invisible enemy to the human eye.

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