There’s a line that ends John Updike’s short, coming-of-age story, A&P, when a cashier quits his job as a grand gesture to impress a female shopper. He ditches his apron and marches into the parking lot, where he reflects for a moment: “my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.” This ending, we think, says a lot about the current retail market.
Covid-19 is changing how we operate businesses. While US retail sales hit a three-decade low, the New York Times reports, some owners are responding to social distancing and innovating their way through the crisis. Just like Updike’s cashier, there is a long, challenging road ahead of us. But these adjustments are likely to carry forward and may conveniently offer a map.
By surveying innovative responses to Covid-19, business owners can better understand how to meet customers’ evolving needs now and in the future. Furthermore, they can plan for them. We at Scorpion suggest owners consider using a retail planogram software to successfully execute original retail strategies and smoothly shift into the new chapter of the market.
Covid-19, Retail and Shoppers
There are a number of indicators suggesting how businesses operate today, during this pandemic, will persist after the worst has passed. History is a good place to begin. Back in the 1980s, during the US outbreak of HIV/AIDS, a majority of people adopted safer practices, which helped control the pandemic and have since become societal and social norms.
Our current response to Covid-19 is also a factor. At the time of this writing, officials in the US and other nations are weighing reopening businesses before a vaccine, and widespread testing, are available. Under these circumstances, customers may remain cautious and continue practicing:
- Frequent, effective handwashing
- Wearing face masks and gloves
- Social distancing
Covid-19 concerns are so strong, they may reshape shoppers’ values. It is our belief that buyers may seek out and favor establishments that facilitate these precautions. More on that below.
Basic Protections for All Retailers
Some stores are already showing how to balance customers’ needs and guard against Covid-19. These are a few easy, immediate solutions:
- Providing disinfecting wipes for shopping carts and baskets
- Assign employees to wipe carts and make them highly visible. Shoppers tend to share such information in social media
- Marking six-foot intervals at checkout queues
- Only allowing one buyer per family to shop at a time
- Giving drivers disposable gloves to safely pump petrol
Covid-19 has redefined “personal space,” so be sure to give your shoppers a six-foot buffer. With retail planogram software, submit your floor and product display dimensions. Are kiosks tightly packed together or spread out? Customers notice these details. Consider redesigning your space to give buyers space to safely browse.
And ask how you might provide other basic protections. Use the software to note high-traffic areas, where patrons are more likely to see a box of wipes or gloves. Of course, complimentary items are an extra expense. But shoppers are likely to appreciate this gesture and note your establishment is safer to visit. And owners can make sure to carry these details on social media.
Covid-19 has sped the adoption of technology at many businesses, as a Forbes contributor observed. Of course, online retail has been around for years, but closing brick-and-mortar stores has pushed many entrepreneurs to boost their digital footprint. Here are a few examples:
- Greater use of ordering and payment platforms
- A social media-first strategy to displaying products to customers
- Placing orders via a smartphone or browser app for curbside pickup
Let’s pause on this last bullet. As recently as last year, curbside pickup was a niche service. Covid-19 changed that. Under social distancing guidelines, curbside pickup has become a de facto form of retail transactions. In the US, Kohls, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods either introduced or expanded their curbside service. Also, seize upon this foot traffic. Select product displays to migrate outside or near windows.
Get Retail Planogram Software
A retail planogram software, such as Scorpion, is an ideal companion during challenges. It is a tool for visualizing your retail space and quickly ideating, designing and testing layouts. Furthermore, Scorpion provides sales insights and data, helping owners to make informed decisions.