• Imogen Wethered

Five Covid-19 Tech Solutions All Retailers Need Right Now

By Imogen Wethered

CEO and Co-founder of Qudini

Covid-19 has created a number of challenges for the retail sector – most noticeably, the forced closure of the majority of stores.

In the last 12 months we’ve seen the majority of retailers introduce face masks, sneeze guards, floor markings and hand sanitising stations, all with the hopes of keeping customers and store associates safe.

However, even when stores were allowed to open, 64% of consumers were still avoiding going inside, a Qudini survey of 2,000 UK consumers found – more needs to be done to keep customers safe and to put their minds at ease, and some hand sanitiser and face masks aren’t going to cut.

With nonessential stores set to reopen come April 12, retailers need to think seriously about how they can make safety a priority without jeopardising the customer experience.

Thankfully, there are a number of innovative tech solutions on the market that make it possible to both, including:

1. Appointment scheduling software

Retailers have a lot on their plates right now, and while times are tough, consumers are no less willing to let a poor customer experience slide.

An enormous global survey of 25,000+ consumers conducted by Adyen, a payment platform, revealed that 64% of consumers wouldn’t return to a retailer if they’ve had a bad experience either in-store or online.

A great way to ensure a customer journey goes smoothly is by investing in appointment scheduling software. This technology allows retailers to offer a highly personalised, engaging and efficient customer journey for in-store services such as style advice from a personal shopping session, or technical support for a broken device. With an online booking system, customers can simply select a time and place that suits them, and receive SMS and email reminders to keep them engaged.

Another common use case for a booking platform is for virtual appointments – many brands have taken their in-store services online and are conducting one-on-one appointments over video calls.

2. Virtual queuing systems

A number of leading retailers have invested in a virtual queuing system that allows customers queuing outside of stores or for service within stores to wait remotely.

Once in a queue, customers receive real-time updates and reminders – they can track their position and estimated wait time through a web page and receive a notification via SMS when it’s their turn.

This creates a superior customer experience, as customers can enjoy their wait by doing something more productive or engaging than standing in a queue (which is most things, to be fair). It also means your customers are less at risk of catching Covid-19, as they’re not all waiting in the one line.

3. Antiviral and antibacterial surface protection

The recent Qudini survey also revealed that health concerns were the main reason stopping shoppers from visiting stores – hinting that consumers aren’t entirely satisfied with the current efforts retail stores are making to ensure their safety.

A number of innovative retailers have invested in antibacterial surface protection technology that destroys both bacteria and viruses (including coronavirus) for up to five hours with just one single coating.

This surface protection is clinically proven to kill and safeguard against all bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19, MRSA and E-Coli, and it doesn’t stain, is non-corrosive and will give a streak and smear free finish to most polished surfaces including glass and stainless steel.

4. Airflow cleansing

The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the coronavirus is an airborne virus, meaning that if there is no or poor ventilation, people can spread and catch it just by breathing.

However, special technology made using UV lights is highly effective at eradicating airborne viruses/microbes through airflow, and can be mounted to walls inside retail stores to effectively clean the circulating air.

This technology comes with the opportunity to reassure customers that you are doing everything you can to stop the spread of the virus and keep them safe, which will help to increase footfall and customer loyalty figures as a result.

5. Curbside click and collect

Another brilliant service many market leading retailers have implemented, including Currys PC World, M&S, John Lewis, Selfridges, Pets At Home and Homebase, is curbside click and collect.

Using click and collect check in software, retailers can create a completely contactless pickup experience for online orders.

Retailers can arrive outside the store on foot or by car, check into the store on their mobile phones and have their orders brought out to them or placed in their car boots.

Currys PC World’s click and collect journey allows customers to check in via a QR code in the parking bay (entering in a description of their car or licence plate), follow their estimated wait time and position number through a web page, then have their orders directly delivered to their car boots.

There are a number of exciting solutions on the market right now which are potential game changers for retailers. For more information about any of these products, or for advice on how to increase engagement and safety in your store portfolio, contact SafePrem for more details.

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