Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Resumption marks beginning of the era of contactless retail

Masks, temperature measurement, flow control and distancing with markings on the floor. From store entry to payment, all processes of a consumer journey have undergone changes in the resumption of post-quarantine retail. As long as there is no vaccine, experts say business will enter a new era – and some segments may undergo a permanent transformation.
The president of the Brazilian Society of Retail and Consumption (SBVC), Eduardo Terra, says that the flow has been lower in stores already reopened, but with a higher rate of conversion of sales: the consumer no longer walks in stores and actually goes to buy, most of the time. New protocols have been adopted by companies of all sizes to make business safer – and this needs to be made clear to the customer.
What differentiates physical retail from digital is precisely the possibility of providing experiences and experimentation, which need to be rethought in this new scenario. Some sectors can be further impacted by social distancing standards and the imposition of so-called toucheless retail, such as clothing, for example. "We will have to look for alternatives, but with simple processes, especially for the small retailer," terra says.
Technology will undoubtedly be one of the drivers of this new phase. But that doesn't mean unknown tools will emerge overnight. "Many technologies, about ten years old, that were already used mainly in Eastern countries such as Japan and South Korea, will now become more common in Western countries, such as augmented reality, NFC and the QR Code," explains Innovation and Business Expert Arthur Church.
These technologies can cause the consumer to eliminate some steps in the purchasing process. "Augmented reality, for example, can help you gain access to product features without having to call someone to talk. The customer can also try on clothes in virtual tasters, among many other things. The seller will be more focused on the realization of the purchase than on the service."
Terra advises the retailer to analyze the entire process of the company and all points of contact with the consumer, which need to be eliminated at this time. It is also necessary to consider the investment capacity itself – if you can not bring technologies to reduce contact, rethink processes. Some are specific and more laborious, such as experimentation with clothing and accessories, and others are common to everyone, such as checkout. The executive cites some examples:
? Employee interaction: everyone should wear masks and care needs to be done at a safe distance. Terra comments that it has been common to increase the distance between the employee and the customer in counter calls with barriers that prevent approach and touch.
? Product interaction: The role of the physical store is to generate interaction and experimentation, but this will need to be reviewed now. In chilli beans' reopened stores, the glasses are sanitized every hour and after the customer experiences them. At Bibi Shoes, salespeople no longer help children try on shoes, which is now up to parents or companions after sanitizing their hands. Stores that provided tasting products have also avoided the practice, such as the Moncloa tea chain. "Many stores are prohibiting customers from trying on clothing, and when parts are returned or replaced, they are quarantined," Terra says.
? Payment: Is a process that is present in all retail segments. "We will have to look for alternatives, identify where the card machine is or how to make change. You have to look for simple processes," says Terra. He recommends that stores encourage contactless payment methods that also don't generate much expense, such as QR Code or mobile payment.
All these processes can leave a mark on society – and the question that hangs is about the future consequences of it. "It will be a lot of time with culture of no touch, not a week or a month. And we have a Latin culture of rapprochement. It remains to be seen how this will behave in the future," says Terra.
Experts explain that the rapid adoption of touchless retail processes is what will determine who will be able to recover on the resumption. "It's going to be one of the most important elements for stores to sell now. The consumer is afraid, does not want to leave the house and will only go to the mall or store as the security protocols appear", he explains.
ABRE - 08/06/2020 News Item translated automatically
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