Veterans draw up post-COVID safety plan
Retail veterans Andrew Busby and Pat Kelly have drawn up a directory of COVID-19 safe solutions for all public indoor spaces
March 2020, and the catastrophe that has changed all of our lives, was just beginning to unfold around the globe.
Two retail veterans, Andrew Busby and Pat Kelly, struck up a conversation. Each from his own viewpoint, their critical gaze fell upon the hopelessly chaotic early reaction to the Pandemic both here in the UK and around the world.
The main point of their convergence being that this huge problem demanded big solutions and those solutions were hidden from plain sight in the ether of the internet. Instead of these, the go to solutions were simplistic barriers as opposed to customer experience based innovation to keep us safe without impeding our way along life’s journey.
They both immediately realised that only concentrating on one specific solution will just add to the existing malaise. Far better to shine a wide beam torchlight on the whole army of solutions all around the world that could, if harnessed and curated, offer the SAFER journey that we would all need to follow as an alternative to the ultimate sanction of lockdown.
A Directory of COVID safe solutions for all public indoor spaces, including but not exclusive to retail, was born from that moment.
They drew up a SAFER journey, applying a route march to the acronym that goes as follows:-
Secure - Digital alternatives to purely ‘turning up’ with appointment and queuing apps along with ‘live stream’ selling.
Arrive – Sentry post gizmos to control the flow of people into a premises whilst also safeguarding with face mask recognition monitors, temperature checks and hand sanitiser dispensers. Plus as fits the new moment, recognition of vaccine passport style credentials
Feel & Touch – Surface cleansing solutions ranging from low tech sprays to more sophisticated spray curtains that coat the entrant in anti-viral protection mists.
Explore – Leading edge technology such as LiDar cameras to observe, predict and control crowd flow especially effective for larger venues such as convention centres, Shopping malls and Sports venues.
Restore – The final and increasingly, most important step in the journey. The restoration of clean air with air filtration systems using the technologies of UV light, Ozone or Ionisation. All of which aimed at destroying airborne virus particles.
Andrew Busby told Retail Technology: “We set about scouring the digital globe to seek out the best solutions providers in each of the journey stages and we are at over 130 and still adding more’.
They then set about putting together a self- audit app for placeholders to go through and create their own ‘heat map’ of their premises effectiveness along the SAFER journey. This being the perfect engagement tool for placeholders to discover their opportunities to ensure the safety of both their colleagues and customers’.
Kelly added: “We are so heartbroken by the impact the lockdowns have had on the retail and hospitality sectors in particular with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. So we want to do our bit by donating 50% of all our revenue in SAFER solutions to the chosen charities ‘The Retail Trust and Hospitality Action UK.”
Busby added: “We certainly see ourselves as a lobby group as much as anything else. We’ve been in talks with governments at all levels and we are no strangers to the industry bodies that we are trying to help.”
So, what now? Has the vaccination program really changed the game and the emergency is over? “Absolutely not” insisted Kelly. “It’s even more important than ever that public enclosed spaces operate in a logical and provable way to ensure safety. Covid hasn’t gone away and it’s ready to strike back at the first sign of weakness. There are practises that we must adopt for the long run, not just in the moment.’
Busby concluded: “As well as showcasing our solutions partners in our new SMART journey, it will enable, in particular, retailers to level up against the digital natives, who’ve had it all their own way during the crisis. Physical space retailers need to steal a few goodies from the digital guys to fight back. And we will be there to shepherd all of the amazing solutions that will help them achieve that aim’.