Covid-19 has changed our lives. And it is not a secret that re-opening the world to humans will also bring a new “normal” which will of course change the way people shop and the way people sell.
There is a lot of money invested on physical stores globally and from now on, the only way to make people feel safe, will be by taking on new safety measures in order to make consumers feel at ease while shopping. These measures may vary depending on the industry, and it will be easier or harder for each of them depending on what they sell. For example, selling food may not be as hard as selling clothes. Have you imagined how shopping for clothes will look like now and in the future?
Most likely there will be a maximum amount of people allowed to be inside a store. People may have to start making online appointments, or else they will have to make long lines keeping social distance. Once inside, a sanitization station before entering the store and latex gloves. Signalization all over the stores asking people not to touch any clothes or their faces unless they actually want to try them on. Once they have their picks, they will be directed to the fitting room. It is likely that all clothes will have to be sanitized after trying them on, they will have to put them on an UV lights chamber, or something similar, and this will have an impact in costs too. The check-out lines will have to be carefully organized to make sure people are far enough from each other, and also acrylic barriers may have to be installed on the cashiers in order to protect the employees. Every day, once they close, stores will have to be sanitized entirely like they often do in planes when you land in certain countries. Quite a hassle for something that used to be so automatic.
Buying make up or fragrances will most likely be an odyssey as well. What was once having testers and mirrors all around the store expecting people to help themselves to the products, won’t be as easy from now on. A sales representative will have to help test the products on the shoppers in order to make sure products and testers don’t get contaminated. which will add costs to the brands. It will be very important for shoppers to actually watch how the sales representative gets sanitized in between every sale experience with a customer. Fragrance testers will probably have to evolve or (they will no longer exist), brands will have to substitute them by sniffing samples or artificial intelligence machines with voice recognition in order to be sprayed, which will definitely be more expensive for brands.
You could be thinking, “This is too complicated for both shoppers and brands.” What can we do in order to make the impact smaller? Well, it’s still uncertain. But analyzing the possible upcoming scenarios there are a few things that can certainly be done on physical stores to lessen the impact, besides the most common sanitizing measures, such as sanitizing checkpoints, wearing gloves, masks and using acrylic “walls”. It may seem exaggerated, but that’s the least brands can do, and I am pretty sure customers will appreciate it.
– Technology will play an important role in this new normal of retail. Check out apps or contactless credit cards will rule now in-store.
– Virtual Reality stores with more functions than just an e-commerce will start to stand out. Brands can build their boutiques as if they had their ideal space, making them even more luxurious at a lower cost than building an actual store. We will probably see a rise on virtual and augmented reality. We may not be able to try on clothes or make-up powder or a lipstick, but with AR we could simulate how this would look on ourselves, something similar to Instagram filters. These stores could be accessible on web regular versions, but also in platforms meant for VR such as Oculus where people would be able to see everything as if they were actually there, and they could even watch some live demos.
– Brands that have invested enormous amounts of money in their stores, can digitalize their boutiques and make a virtual version of them.
– Distribution chains should evolve. Brands could ask for money in advance in order to ship samples of their products so that consumers can try them on, and once they know which one or ones they want, they could use the forwarded money for the final sale, shipping back what the customer didn’t want to buy.
It is a fact that the world is changing, difficult challenges will be there all the time, but together brands and agencies will have to figure them out. And for that, let’s be positive, there is a new world of opportunities coming too. Let’s go take them! Even if scientists find a cure for Covid-19, we are moving on into a more technological marketing retail reality.