Barriers and Social Distancing for Retail Professionals
22 June 2020
As shops and retail establishments begin to open back up following the coronavirus lock-down. There is a need to help visitors to retail environments to keep safe when queuing to enter premises. As you may have experienced yourself. The un-ceremonial queue around the car park of a big shop, supermarket or store in a retail park is quite daunting as a paying customer.
If the right fencing and barriers are not put in place, or indeed correctly installed in the right amount, can leave your potential customers at risk and also poses as threat to your turnover if they just will not chance it.
If a competitor’s customer queuing experience is clearer, simpler, and less of a bind of the customer, then the customer is going to the competitor…
The retail experience has changed, and whilst our customers are used to seeing glossy adverts. Or even commercials on television – depicting a flawless retail experience for the budding consumer.
The reality of shopping in a post lock-down is going to be a difficult thing to entice beyond the early adopters – who have rushed out at the first chance of a bargain as they know retailers will be slashing prices to build volumes of sales.
Your meat and two veg customers, the main majority of customers, who keep coming back time and time again, are hedging their bets based on the retail experience and perceived threat of putting themselves at risk. This may not be common knowledge, but we are sure that the till rolls at the end of the retail days are showing different trends in consumer shopping.
Footfall may be up in comparison to what has been experienced in the dullness of the past months, but are consumers really spending what you would expect at this time of year? What are the market drivers normally at this stage of the year?
You would expect season change for clothes and more outdoor expenditure in terms of garden furniture as the weather encourages holidays and more time to be spent outside soaking up the vitamin D.
To cope with the main majority – the user experience, the retail experience needs to be as safe, considered, and ready to satisfy the needs and wants of the customer. What does it take to make the experience good, the tills ping, the customer satisfied and maximising of staff efficiencies?
Innovation has been rife with retailers looking at every possible way to ensure that they can operate and function during and after the lock-down ceased. Even with the apparent reduction in social distancing set to be announced (social distancing is set to be reduced in some environments) this coming week (week commencing 22/06/2020).
Traffic flow in and out of retail premises needs to be controlled. Have you seen the traffic light systems deployed by some retailers? These work as simple as two lights. A red and a green light to depict when a queuing customer can safely enter a shop, when the retailer knows that the potential for the existing social distancing will not be compromised by allowing entrance to the shop by that individual.
You will have witnessed all manners of queuing systems in place at shops, retail parks and supermarkets. There are so many ways to do this, but to have maximum effect and ensure that the shopping experience is not interrupted it must be right. And whilst we are not herding cattle, we are controlling the flow of intelligent human beings who will sooner abandon the queue if there is no perceived progress.
Those demanding always on type of customers are wanting to get in and out, without touching or being near everyone else.
What are the types of barrier are used by shops?
Depending on the space available at the shop premises, there are several solutions that can be easily deployed to enable safe control and improved waiting experience for shoppers. Space is one consideration, budget and staffing are other considerations as often purchasing and setting out queuing systems can be demanding on staff resources.
Especially if your staff team are the ones who are putting setting up the outside of your store every day. And the opposite when it is closing time.
Whatever queuing system you opt for needs to be effective, affordable, and easy to use.
A Board and Makeshift Barriers
You will not have to go far to see examples of this sort of queuing system. Where a shop deploys makeshift barriers and queuing by using equipment they already have. Effectively using A Board signs to mark the path of a queue into a shop, with the Aboard Signs festooned with tape to provide a visual barrier.
As per the header image for this article, some retailers are innovating with upturned shopping trolleys to form their queues.
Pros of this kind of queuing system for social distancing is the fact that it is easy to deploy. The Aboard Signs may already be in the shops inventory, reducing the cost of deploying a queuing system for your store.
The Cons are obvious; there may be limited reach of the queuing system, leading to an unnerved social distancing aware shopper. The barrier between the space outside the queue and the actual queue is not defined enough to make the customer feel safe, especially if your social distance queue wraps or begins to wrap around an area where you have deliveries or high traffic from visiting customers cars.
Metal Crowd Control Barriers
These are the go-to temporary queuing system crowd control barrier system. Used by retailers the length and breadth of the country. One of our corporate customers deployed several metal crowd control barriers (and cones) to about 1000 of their premises at the start of the lock-down and there are still using them today.
Crowd Control barriers are ideal for controlling queues and keeping people safe.
These barriers are designed for the sole purpose of herding human beings. They are crowd control barriers. Making it possible to control people, visitors, and shoppers at your premises in a safe manner.
Their construction makes them sturdy enough to do their job and able to withstand moderate weather, which could knock other barrier systems out of kilter.
Pros to metal crowd control barriers are their modular design, meaning they can be stacked efficiently to not take too much space in between sales sessions.
Metal crowd control barriers can also lock together to enable a seamless pathway from the point of queue start to your shop doorway, making it less likely for potential shoppers to abandon the queue, yet possible to make a break in the connection of barriers should there be a need to.
The modular construction of metal control barriers also makes it possible to create intricate runs and dog legs of a queue, meaning that your customer social distancing queue can double back on itself and make it easier to control more shoppers.
This type of queue has been deployed by major supermarkets as a part of their social distancing strategies.
For information, prices and best practice for deployment of barriers as a part of your social distancing strategy for your shop, store or retail environment get in touch with our team.