Retailers in the UK should adjust to these 3 realities before reopening their stores post lockdown

GettyRetailers in the UK should be looking to build customer confidence in making store visits.
  • Retailers in the UK should be looking to build customer confidence before reopening their stores while navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey has found.
  • More than a third of consumers have stopped visiting shops except for essential items, retail-technology startup Qudini’s survey showed.
  • Based on consumer preferences for virtual services, the survey found that retailers in the UK should adjust to 3 new realities before they can reopen safely.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While UK retailers anxiously await news from the government to restart business, they will have to consider 3 realities before opening doors once again, according to a survey by retail-technology startup, Qudini.

“The government is grappling with how to reopen stores in a secure way that protects the public, but if more stores reopen, this could lead to excessive queues outside of stores that could risk public safety,” Imogen Wethered, chief executive of Qudini, told Business Insider.

“Queues were an iconic consequence of World War II rationing schemes, but with the smartphone technology now available to us three-quarters of a century later, it feels unnecessary that they should become an iconic part of the Coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

Qudini’s survey was conducted in March after the UK lockdown was enforced and took into account over 2,000 UK consumers aged between 16 and 90 to understand how retailers can navigate the Covid-19 landscape.

Here are 3 realities retailers should consider before they can be ready to safely reopen stores, as per findings from the survey:

1. Pre-booking visits and managing virtual queues

Owing to a strong demand for virtual services by consumers who are avoiding shop visits, retailers should look to build customer confidence in enabling store visits. Qudini found that about 50% of consumers would prefer ‘essential’ retailers (banks, pharmacies, and groceries) to provide virtual services over the phone.

Business types avoidingQudini60% of UK consumers reduced their visits to grocery stores.

Enhancing customer management processes would be key to establish effective social distancing inside and outside the store. This could be done through:

  • Allowing customers to pre-book their visits online
  • Managing walk-in customers through virtual queues (updates via text messages as their turn nears)

2. Launching click-and-collect services

42% of UK consumers said they would rather turn to click-and-collect services for groceries and pharmacies. Currently, there are limited services that cater to this demand, which is why consumers don’t have an option but to visit stores for essentials.

Likelihood of using click and collect services during the Coronavirus outbreakQudiniShoppers are more likely to use click-and-collect services during Covid-19.

In the near future, investing in contactless click-and-collect services would boost customer experiences and add long-term brand value by enabling safe curbside pick-ups.

3. Enabling personalised virtual relationships

Close to half of consumers surveyed signalled a strong demand for essential retailers to provide virtual services by phone as this would reduce in-store time significantly.

Brands that wish to create more personalised relationships could consider investing in one-to-one services to engage customers online. Qudini found that based on younger consumers having an interest in video services, it is increasingly likely that this trend would last well past the coronavirus outbreak and could be a catalyst for future brand interactions.

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