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An interview with Quail Digital’s CEO: How will retail recover as the lockdown eases?
11 May 2020
Like many other sectors, retail has been hit hard from the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of high street outlets have been forced to close, leaving businesses of all sizes struggling to stay afloat. But as stores start to reopen and the world adapts to what has become the new “normal”, businesses are rethinking the way they operate in order to prioritise the safety of their staff and customers.
We spoke to our CEO, Tom Downes, to find out how the retail industry will recover as the stores start to reopen.
Tom, how do you think retail will bounce back over the next 12 months?
There’s a lot of demand for new season stock so sales should pick up relatively well over summer. Looking ahead, if we’re lucky to avoid a second outbreak, then Christmas trading should also be able to bounce back to normal. Leading into 2021, social distancing measures may still be in place, but I think most customers will have the confidence to shop in store again.
Do you think social distancing could be a realistic measure within retail stores?
Yes, the supermarkets have all done an outstanding job of adapting their operations over the past two months and customers have become used to the social distancing protocols. As more high street retailers open, I think they’ll find it easier to impose their own solutions for social distancing. Customers should expect to see finetuning of store layouts, changes to accessing fitting rooms, more payment stations around the store and the installation of self-service checkouts to reduce contact.
But will a socially distanced high street actually work?
It all depends on whether or not employers can move to more flexible work times. If stores can stagger business operating time it’ll help to manage the number of people in high streets and travelling on public transport or the roads.
How will retailers look to limit contact in stores?
Most retailers will look to go contactless as much as possible. They’ll certainly introduce more self-scan checkouts and add more payment points in store to reduce queues. They’ll look at store layout to set-up a seamless shopping flow, with clear signage to reduce random wandering. And they might focus on timely replenishing of shelves to reduce the incidence of ‘have you got?’ enquiries to staff. Hands-free communication such as wireless headsets are an important addition here to ensure teams can communicate and share information easily.
And what will happen with restaurants?
I think table service will be a real challenge due to the difficulty of cleaning between patrons and the close interaction with restaurant staff. Drive-thrus, on the other hand, are reopening and in a way are the safest social distancing option at the moment.
How are Quail Digital’s headsets helping retailers who are looking to reopen?
Every shop and every restaurant will be putting in measures and protocols to respect social distancing. And this will mean changes to staff work practices, their interaction with customers and procedures to protect their safety. Wireless headsets enable teams to communicate from anywhere within the store – ensuring that customer queries and issues can be resolved quickly and safely. The Quail Digital Pro10 wireless headset is purpose-built for the retail industry, keeping staff connected in stores around the world.
If you’re in the retail industry and want to find out how
Quail Digital’s Pro10 can help in your store, please submit an Enquiry