How technology will help the retail sector recover after Covid-19

Many retail businesses were forced to close their doors in March as the government put the nation into lockdown.

While essential stores were allowed to stay open with strict safety measures in place, a majority of shops had to limit their business activities.

However, with lockdown easing and Boris Johnson signalling in his statement on 25th May that all non-essential retailers will be able to "reopen stores in England from 15th June" as long as they have social distancing measures in place, businesses are looking at ways they can reboot their operations while adhering to the new safety guidelines.

With the UK government’s chief medical officer saying that social distancing will be needed, at least, to the end of the year – retailers are looking to technology solutions to help them adapt so they can reopen and protect their staff and customers.

Throughout the pandemic, technology innovations have been accelerated with many manufacturers rapidly developing solutions and partnerships to help businesses in this time of need.

Here’s how technology is helping retail to recover:

1. Effective communication through floor and digital signage
2. Touchless shopping and ordering
3. Limiting customer footfall

1. Effective communication through floor and digital signage

As we have seen in many grocery stores that remained open during lockdown, floor signage has become commonplace, as has digital signage for promoting safe social distancing.

With brands like Samsung, LG, NEC, iiyama, Phillips and more producing affordable digital signage, it’s easier than ever to effectively communicate safety messages or any adjustments to business service to customers.

Information can be easily updated in real time with the help of built in SOC or media players, using static or video content. Screens can also be paired with new technologies like temperature sensors and facial recognition to offer safer venue analytics. Also, the screens can be used to display offers while customers are in the store. 

Floor signage has been another effective way to communicate safe distances between shoppers while giving them confidence that the business is adhering to safety guidelines.

Printer manufacturer OKI has been proactive in answering this demand for floor stickers by demonstrating how they can be quickly and professionally printed in-house using their C800 range of printers. They are also offering a FREE* floor sticker media pack to help businesses reopen and remain operational in the current climate.

2. Touchless shopping and ordering

BrightSign has stepped up with their range of touchless solutions.

BrightLink allows for customers to avoid touching unknown touchscreens by connecting their mobile phone.

BrightMenu eliminates the risk of sharing menus by allowing the user to scan a QR code that will enable them to view the menu on their phone.

BrightVoiceTM is a voice activated digital signage solution that delivers a unique, hands-free interactive experience eliminating the need for contact.

And finally, BlueFox’s foot traffic analytics solution supports a wide range of BrightSign media players. The BlueFox Count app can send real-time alerts when a property surpasses its capacity. This can then trigger the signage to display ‘Please wait outside’ messaging until it’s safe to enter.

3. Limiting customer footfall

Maintaining a safe social distance is the priority for all businesses.

A way to help this is to reduce the amount of people allowed in the store at one time.

There are a few technology solutions available that help to limit customer footfall, keeping it within safe parameters.

As mentioned earlier, BlueFox Count analyses footfall and sends alerts if it’s at capacity.

Additionally, Philips Professional Display Solutions and Bosch have brought their strength together by combining the power of Philips Android displays and Bosch’s intelligent cameras.

Their PeopleCount single entrance and signage works at tracking customers entering and leaving a venue through a single entrance. This then can deliver real-time information to a display for customer queue communications via a simple traffic light system.

If multiple entries are an issue, they have the answer for that too in the form of their PeopleCount multi-entrance software, sensor and signage package. This allows for effective and powerful monitoring of multiple entrances to ensure the safety of staff and customers alike.

While there is still uncertainty about when things will return to, what was once, normal – technology can help find the much-needed solution to help retailers adapt to the current situation and prepare for the future.

View and download our new guide on ‘How Technology Can Help with Social Distancing Requirements’ now, or for more information on any of the solutions mentioned, please contact your account manager.

How Technology Can Help with Social Distancing Requirements – Guide