6 retailers making social distancing look cool

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

A number of prominent retailers are making social distancing look easy by incorporating engaging signage, contactless click and collect services, virtual queueing software and a number of downright quirky ideas into their in-store offering.

Covid-19 has brought with it a number of challenges for retailers. Keeping customers safe and convincing them to enter their stores again. Overseeing the day-to-day running of stores on a skeleton staff. Managing stock in stores while meeting the demands of a rapidly evolving online customer-base.

But there are a number of retailers out there that are leading the pack with innovative, engaging and forward-thinking social distancing initiatives that also create engaging customer experiences – in fact, they’re so good at it that they make it look cool!


There aren’t many department stores that occupy a top spot on TripAdvisor list for must-see attractions in London (or the world) – but over the years, luxury department store Selfridges has created such powerful experiences that its earned itself such a reputation that it’s become a tourist hot spot.

Like most other retailers, Selfridges has carried out a number of social distancing measures at its iconic Oxford Street store, but where the retailer stands out is in its stylistic approach. Using its signature bright yellow, the brand has created an engaging customer journey throughout shop, from greetings and thank yous to little signs around the store.

And the week before the lockdown eased for non-essential stores, Selfridges set up a window display outside its Oxford Street store that paid tribute to key workers who helped kept the country in motion during Covid-19. The displays featured hundreds of personalized thank you messages from the Selfridges’ team members.

Selfridges thank you window display at its Oxford Street store. Source: Retail Gazette


Disney does a lot to make its stores child focused, from making its shelves at child height, to categorizing merchandise in-store by Disney character rather than by item, to hosting regular free events.

So when it comes to social distancing, the brand has done an excellent job at incorporating new signage into its existing customer journey, providing customers with a safe and enjoyable experience.


NikeTown on the corner of London’s Oxford Street and Regent Street has set up hand washing stations around the store to allow customers to stay safe while shopping – a brilliant initiative as it allows customers to feel safe handling products while saving their hand sanitizer for when they need it most.

Nike have also set up a ‘NikeTown Express Shop’ service which allows customers to tell a member of staff what product(s) they want and in what size, and the staff member will go and grab the product for them. This saves customers from having to search for items themselves and queue to make purchases, limiting their overall time in-store drastically.

NikeTown Express Shop allows customers to book appointments.

Read: NikeTown London is in the lead with its safe and inclusive in-store experience

Brown Thomas

Luxury department store retailer, Brown Thomas, which is owned by Selfridges Group, has expanded its click and collect pickup locations, with the Dublin store now offering click and collect from any till point above Level 1. This click and collect check-in software gives customers more choice and reassurance while allowing the store to manage flow and social distancing more effectively.

All consumers need to do is scan the QR code (pictured above) and the team will bring their order out to them. After checking into the system via the QR code, customers will receive a position in the queue and an estimated wait time. And if there is a wait, customers can browse through the store and stay updated via weblink and real-time notifications.

Find out more about how Brown Thomas is using Qudini software in its stores



Grocery retailer Asda has been using Qudini’s virtual queuing system to improve its shopping experience. To escape standing in a physical queue to enter the store, Asda customers are able to follow poster signage in the car park and to join a virtual queue by texting in using an SMS code or by scanning a QR code that opens a weblink on their phone where they can provide their phone number and group size. Once added to the virtual queue, customers will receive a confirmation text message and a weblink to follow their place while they wait. They can now wait from the comfort of their car (out of the wind, sun or rain) until a text notifies them that it’s almost their turn to enter the store.

Currys PC World

The prominent electronics retailer, Currys PC World, which is owned by Dixons Carphone, has rolled out a contactless curbside collection service at a number of its stores throughout the UK.

The collection service allows customers to purchase products and collect online orders from the safety of their cars. The retailer is using Qudini’s click and collect check-in software to enable customers arriving at stores to check-in by phone by accessing a weblink in their order confirmation email or through scanning a QR code at the front of the parking bay.

Currys PC World customers can join a collection queue by scanning a QR code.

Once checked in to a store, they receive their queue position by SMS and a live smartphone countdown view while they wait.

Qudini’s queue management software gives Currys PC World customers real-time notifications and accurate wait times.

A store associate will then locate the customer’s order and drop it into the customer’s car boot, enabling them to drive in and out of the store without getting out of their car.

Currys PC World’s drive-thru experience delivers items to customers’ car boots without any contact.

Walk-through of Currys PC World’s contactless curbside click and collect experience


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