The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed retail as we know it. Lockdowns and social distancing requirements have forced many retailers to shut their doors for months on end. But after months of closures, a lot of retailers have reimagined in-store shopping to improve customer safety in retail stores.
The transition back to in-person shopping isn’t a simple one. There is a lot to consider when deciding how to best protect your customers and employees. In this article, we will share five examples of retailers who are appropriately addressing customer safety. We hope these examples spark some inspiration and aid in the reopening of your own retail store.
Back in March, Target changed several of its policies to better protect their employees and customers. One of the most notable changes is their modified business hours for vulnerable shoppers. This policy allowed guests who are elderly, immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable to shop at a separate time outside of traditional store hours. It lets those who are at high risk avoid being around large crowds while still having the chance to get any essential items they need. Many other stores have followed suit due to the success of this program.
On top of the modified store hours program, Target also added a contactless pick up option to its app. This feature allows customers to order items on the Target app, pull up to the designated parking spot and have their items placed directly in their trunk. Target’s employees verify the customer’s identity through their car window—a safer option than an in-store shopping experience.
CVS is a great example of a brand that stepped up and made accommodations for its customers during the pandemic. Back when COVID-19 was first spreading in the U.S., CVS immediately waived the fee for prescription delivery for all of its pharmacy members. This encouraged people to stay home and kept the CVS stores less crowded— allowing for a safer shopping experience for everyone involved.
The company also added virtual doctor visits to its lineup of services. The clinics inside CVS stores known as MinuteClinic® began offering virtual appointments in 40 states. This adjustment allowed individuals to seek medical attention from their own home, rather than visiting in person and potentially coming in contact with the virus. Additionally, CVS created several drive-up COVID-19 testing locations outside of their stores to provide a safer and faster way for customers to get tested for the virus.
3. Best Buy
At the peak of the pandemic, Best Buy let customers come shop in-store by appointment only. Customers downloaded an app and were able to book a time slot during which they could visit the store. Only a limited number of slots were available per hour, so this system was first come, first serve. The appointment system ensured that there were never too many people in the store at once, which gave shoppers adequate room to maintain appropriate distance from one another. As restrictions eased, several Best Buy locations decided to stop offering their appointment system, but it is still an effective idea that other retailers should keep in mind.
Costco made some major changes to its stores to promote customer safety in its retail stores. The most notable was their mandatory mask policy. Other stores were highly encouraging masks, but Costco was the first large retailer to make masks mandatory—regardless of state regulations. Costco created this policy in hopes of protecting its customers and employees from virus transmission.
The wholesale retailer also created a rule that only allowed each member to bring one guest into the store. This prevented unnecessarily large groups from entering and ensured the store was never at an overwhelming capacity. Fewer people in the store meant better social distancing practices, plus customers can get in and out quicker.
Walmart was one of the first retailers to install plexiglass barriers at all of its cash registers and pharmacy lanes. The retailer chose to install these barriers storewide to promote social distancing and help make customers and employees feel safe. Walmart also installed bold signage throughout its store and in all of its checkout lanes that reminded customers to keep a consistent distance of six feet.
In addition to the social distancing barriers, Walmart ramped up their use of self-cleaning robots. Even before the pandemic, Walmart was using these robots to keep up with routine cleanings. As uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 rose, Walmart set up additional robots in their stores. These robots were able to sanitize and disinfect the store with precision. This provided additional sanitation coverage when employees were busy with other tasks and ensured customers had the cleanest and safest shopping experience possible.
Safety Should Always Be Front of Mind
The health and safety of your customers and employees is of the utmost importance as we all endure this worldwide pandemic. Taking the proper precautions to address customer safety in retail stores and showing that your company cares about the well-being of its shoppers helps build trust and loyalty. Not only is it the right thing to do, but in the end it will positively impact your bottom line.
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