To keep their customers and employees safe, U.S. retailers have placed safety first during the pandemic. Employers are reluctant to ask their employees to be vaccinated because of the potential negative consequences and resistance from employees who cannot or won’t get vaccines.
Looking further down the road, it seems impossible to imagine a world without COVID-19. Some have called this “COVID Zero”. Retailers are trying to motivate employees to get vaccinated as a way to jump-start the economy and increase productivity. While many are still unsure whether or not to mandate vaccinations, there is more that they can and should do to ensure their employees’ safety over the long-term.
- 0.1 Retailers’ Investing in Contact Tracing, Despite Limitations
- 0.2 Employee-Focused Solutions Still One of the Few Realistic and Realistic Contact Tracing Apps
- 0.3 Contract Tracing is More Than Just an Investment in Safety. It’s also a way to foster corporate culture
- 0.4 Looking Forward
- 1 What COVID-19 Means for Brands: How COVID-19 Accelerates Retail’s Transformation
Retailers’ Investing in Contact Tracing, Despite Limitations
Retailers are increasingly turning to contact tracing technology to increase customer and worker confidence during a reopening.
It is not easy to implement digital contact tracing in a retail environment. Although it might seem like a great solution to trace both in-store shoppers and employees, it is not possible due to tech limitations. One, contact tracing has not been able to take root since the pandemic. Secondly, public tracing attempts have failed because most public health programs rely on at least 60% of citizens opting into them.
For widespread contact tracing, there are many privacy concerns. For a successful customer trace in a retail environment, store owners will need to have the contact and health information of shoppers at the minimum — something many consumers won’t want to share.
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Employee-Focused Solutions Still One of the Few Realistic and Realistic Contact Tracing Apps
Retailers need to be realistic about the contact tracing solutions that they can implement effectively and efficiently this far into the pandemic. An employee-focused digital contact trace program is one option.
This is what you should consider: An average number of 41 employees works in one grocery store. There are many more at larger chains. Part-time workers are also available with flexible, four-to six-hour shifts. They can move around the store in different departments. This results in a lot of overlap and touchpoints among different employee groups, which puts the entire staff at risk. Some retailers were forced to close down their stores after one of their employees tested positive for COVID. This is a devastating blow to retailers who are already struggling to make ends meet in the midst of a pandemic.
Digital contact tracing can help retailers reduce the risk of COVID-19. It is similar to masks, social distancing and good hygiene practices. This solution allows you to quickly determine who was exposed, without having to remove large numbers of people from the schedule or shut down all operations. Managers can determine who and how long they need to quarantine.
Employers can quickly trace employees using digital contact tracing tools, while keeping their anonymity. These tools are designed with privacy in mind.
Contract Tracing is More Than Just an Investment in Safety. It’s also a way to foster corporate culture
According to the most recent Pulse Survey by PwC, 43% of chief human resources officers are ready to work in a post COVID-19 world. They place a high priority on corporate values that help to maintain or improve their culture.
Although contract tracing may be seen by many retailers as an investment in employee safety and a way to show that a company is living its values, it can also serve to demonstrate how a company cares about its workers. A company’s investment in contract tracing along with other safety and health measures sends a clear message that it stands behind its workers, which can help to strengthen its corporate culture.
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The future is uncertain. Retailers can either expect COVID to magically disappear or make investments in employee safety using tools such as digital contact tracing to protect their workers and keep their doors open.
What COVID-19 Means for Brands: How COVID-19 Accelerates Retail’s Transformation
It’s not surprising that people yearn for physical contact after a year of social isolation, Zoom calls, and quarantines. According to Kantar’s COVID-19 barometer, 25% of online shoppers feel that shopping online is less rewarding than going to a brick-and mortar store.
The brands that succeed will offer a new type of retail experience than those we experienced before COVID. They will understand that e-commerce isn’t going away, even though there is a lot of demand for in-person shopping. Here are some things we can expect.
Intentional “Reopening” Strategies
Many are excited about the new year 2021. The country is seeing a surge in vaccine distribution, states are easing COVID-related restrictions and people are eager to start living again. This is a good time for retailers to take stock, make changes, and launch “reopening” strategies. Even if they were closed during the pandemic, this will signal to customers and employees that they are committed to safe and engaging experiences and are eager to see what’s ahead. This could include using purposeful messaging, introducing new capabilities and digital interfaces in-store and training employees to provide exceptional service and personal support to customers so they feel valued and energized.
Take Advantage of the Unique Advantages Of Brick-and-Mortar
The pandemic has made online shopping more accessible for people. McKinsey Research found that 60% of pandemic shoppers tried new behaviors during the period. They plan to continue doing so after the crisis. Why would someone leave their home to shop in person when they can do it from the comfort of their couch? Brands that did well in the last year’s pandemic were those that addressed that question before it was too late. Glossier opened its very first retail location back in 2016. This allowed shoppers to try and purchase products online, and take photos against the “Instagrammable” backdrop. (Glossier closed its retail locations in response to the pandemic. However, it’s ” currently reimagining the future for in-person experiences.“) Levi’s opened its first NextGen store in 2016, allowing customers to take selfies against the “Instagrammable” background. You should try on a pair of jeans before you make a custom order. Levi’s created an incentive for customers to visit the store.
Data-Driven Decision Making, Digital Everything
Although category leaders had already developed data-driven strategies, the pandemic prompted retailers to implement systems for understanding, collecting and activating customer data. Brands will become more deliberate about how they market, using data to identify where and how they connect with customers and what they should promote. They will connect customers’ offline and online behavior, and provide store representatives with easy access to customer profiles. They will also be using digital signage to allow retailers to update local messaging. For example, Levi’s NextGen stores use digital signage to inform customers about available sizes and fits. There are also more “phygital” experiences that combine digital and physical elements such as Love Bonito’s AR-enabled walkway in its Singapore store and Nike activation inside-store activation , which simulates an outdoor expedition with guests’ smartphones, AR, and QR codes.
Channel is the Customer
We saw how rapidly shopping habits can change after the pandemic. Retailers must be flexible and put the customer first in everything they do. Because they are convenient and safe, curbside pickup or buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS), options will not be discontinued. Customers expect retailers to seamlessly transition from the online to the offline world, just as they expect them to. Look out for an increase in flexibility and a greater emphasis on omnichannel, cohesive strategies.
Spring is a time for new beginnings and new possibilities. This is an opportunity for brands to connect with customers in new and innovative ways.