Retailers, grocers, restaurant owners, and other multi-site facility managers are adapting to a new normal. In just a few short weeks, consumers and employees alike began to expect—and demand—in-store social distancing updates that accommodate the latest CDC recommendations. Many retailers are implementing store design updates following the Coronavirus outbreak so customers can shop with both health and safety in mind.
How Stores Are Reacting To The Coronavirus Pandemic
The speed at which different industries are implementing social distancing measures depends a great deal on state-by-state mandates. Many have been quick to carry out in-store social distancing updates, and offer improved online and curbside assistance, as well as home delivery.
Grocers, for instance, have been at the forefront of the crisis. Many have been praised across the country for their quick in-store upgrades with plexiglass barriers at checkout and social distancing signage. Essential retailers, like pharmacies and hardware stores, have added similar store enhancements designed for social distancing and safe shopping.
Here are a few actionable steps you can take to help customers practice social distancing while shopping safely.
Top 6 Social Distancing Store Updates To Implement
Plexiglass Barriers At Check-Out
Transparent physical barriers between cashiers and guests provide peace of mind for everyone involved. This straight-forward retrofit provides protection against the spreading of germs and viruses. As a physical barrier, it reminds both customers and associates to provide safe social distancing space to one another. Plexiglass barriers at checkout are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive to add.
POS Station Spacing
Enable social distancing by increasing the distance between POS stations in the store and between customers standing in line. Modifications may be required to POS stalls and gondola shelving fixtures to accommodate increased space for guests in line. Consider customer flow and possible congestion points, and use signage to help guide guests. During initial phases of implementation, customers will likely require friendly verbal reminders—so be sure to provide training to employees.
Social Distancing and Wayfinding Signage
Communicate new shopping patterns and store changes with static or digital signage on the exterior and throughout the store. Signage strategically placed in high-contact areas reminds guests to stand 6 feet apart and limit surface touching. If stores temporarily close, signage should be used to direct guests to the nearest alternative. Electronic signage can also be used for merchandising and promotions.
Aisle Widening and Marking
Implementing wider aisles with floor markers every 6 feet or one-way traffic flow will help guests and associates maintain social distancing while shopping. Widening aisles and shifting product inventory to accommodate social distancing may take multiple iterations to identify the best solution. Signage is important for helping direct guests through one-way traffic flows. Provide multiple reminders and help associates find safe and friendly ways to communicate any updates or changes.
Provide protection and peace of mind for your associates. Offer them easy ways to increase social distancing including single-person tables or individual break spaces. Staggered break schedules or other process accommodations can help minimize physical overlap.
Outside Queue Line
As retailers and restaurants transition to resume operations, many are limiting the number of customers in a store at one time. Covered outdoor queue lines attended by store associates help maintain social distance and provide a great experience for the waiting patrons.
If possible, share anticipated wait times with guests. Some multi-site retailers have tied outside queues to social media and marketing campaigns. This both highlights their attention to safety and wellness, and can improve brand loyalty and the overall customer experience.
Integrating Social Distancing Store Updates Into Future Plans
Protecting associates and guests is essential and improving facility design with in-store updates is an ideal way to get started. In addition, it will be important in future planning to design stores with social distancing in mind.
For more safety tips and solutions to provide peace of mind to consumers and employees, download the complete Biological Defense Preparedness Guide created for retailers, restaurants, and c-stores during COVID-19 and beyond.