COVID-19: Report highlights store reinvention as lockdown eases
Validify partners with the British Retail Consortium to highlight in-store tech innovation with latest Rapid Response Report as non-essential retail stores reopen
As some Brits queued for hours last week to visit non-essential stores as they reopen after lockdown, a report launched today highlights how retailers are adapting their businesses to queue bust in response to Covid-19.
The new report, Reinvent Your Stores, is published by Validify in partnership with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to provide first-hand accounts from leading retailers and expert commentary and guidance on how they are managing the impact of the pandemic.
Retailers are looking for ways to entice consumers back and mitigate the impact of social distancing measures that limits the numbers of customers in a store. In response, the report covers key strategic areas of tech innovation, such as augmented experiences, customer service and fulfilment that can help retailers reopen their physical stores safely and successfully.
Many retailers contributing to the report shared the benefits of their successful deployment of new technology to combat queuing. Charlie Harrison, Commercial Director, Furniture Village stated: “Appointments are converting to sales at between 50 and 80%... I think the headline for us was Bank Holiday weekend. Across three days, we took 1,046 appointments, from not having a booking system in place two weeks before. We were just blown away.”
Matthew Gratze, Director of Digital, Signet Jewellery, added: “We have increased our focus on our appointment booking technology and already started taking appointments for either an in-store or remote session with one of our sales colleagues. Adapting to the evolving customer shopping behaviours, and also working around the concerns, has been a huge focus.”
Speaking about the augmented video consultation experience that the sofa retailer, Sofology, has introduced from tech provider, Go Instore, Harvey Ainley, its COO said: “Championing convenience with a one-to-one consultative approach feels very much like the next step in retail. Feedback from customers has been really positive.”
The report, which is available free also features strategic recommendations from industry experts, alongside 26 profiles highlighting some of the best tech solutions that can help the High Street get back on its feet.
Guy Mason, one contributing retail expert who has held former Board and senior executive roles at Sainsbury’s, Clark’s, Bourne Leisure and Boots, stated: “The disruptive impact of recent events will reverberate across all the retail dimensions. The consumer’s perception of shopping may have initially been challenged around health and safety, but it is now driving customers to question everything we and they previously assumed – across loyalty, quality, pricing, fulfilment and customer service.”
Helen Dickinson, CEO, British Retail Consortium and report co-sponsor, added: “Those that were quick to invest, find new ways of reaching out to and serving customers during the crisis are well placed to meet the longer-term challenges. Many others will be able to take the learning – accelerating their online and omnichannel presence and innovating to ensure the in-store experience continues to appeal to and meet customer needs.”
Fergal O’Mullane, Validify Co-Founder and CEO, concluded: “As commercial businesses, retailers need to try and achieve both profitability while also preparing their businesses for the potential of a second wave, which could result in further lockdowns. Our Reinvent Your Stores Rapid Response Report is designed to help retailers reinvent their stores and showcases innovative solutions that can overcome the many challenges they will face going forward while also delivering the best possible customer experience.”
The Validify BRC Reinvent Your Stores Rapid Response Report is available to download here.