Brown Thomas and Arnotts will use appointment scheduling software and a virtual queuing system to manage customers and ensure social distancing when its stores reopen at the end of June.
Ireland’s government have recently announced that larger stores will be able to reopen 29 June, while smaller format stores can reopen 8 June, but many consumers will be reluctant to visit stores and other public places unless stringent safety and hygiene standards are in place.
Over three-quarters (77%) of consumers were avoiding trips to stores before the lockdown came into effect, a recent Qudini survey of 2,000 respondents found, and the majority of consumers will most likely continue to do so after the lockdown is lifted unless retailers implement strict initiatives that place safety above all else.
This is something Brown Thomas is clearly taking seriously. The department store retailer’s managing director, Donald McDonald, has announced a number of interesting safety measures to ensure in-store social distancing and hygiene standards are met.
Brown Thomas customers will be able to select times to visit stores
Mr Donald told The Irish Times that customers will be able to book entry to its stores via the Brown Thomas app by selecting a time that they wish to visit a store in advance.
To limit the number of customers in-store and ensure social distancing, capacity will be counted electronically and reduced to between 33-40%, he said, with a maximum of 450 customers allowed in its Grafton Street store in Dublin at once, and a maximum of 1,100 in its Arnotts outlet store. To help put customers minds at ease, there will be screens showcasing how many other customers are in the store at any given time.
Walk-in shoppers will also be welcome, but they will be facilitated via a virtual queuing system that allows customers to remotely join a queue to enter a store, and receive real-time notifications of wait times and their place in the queue.
Strict sanitation protocols and virtual make-up technology
Brown Thomas will also implement a number of hygiene measures derived from other retailers in the Selfridges group, including Holt Renfrew in Canada and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
For instance, Mr McDonald also announced all garments will be steamed after being handled by customers, and purchases returned by customers will be quarantined. He also announced technology that allows customers to virtually try on make-up.
Customers will be able to try on items in fitting rooms, but they will be tightly controlled, with garments sanitised and quarantined after handling.
The retailer will not be implementing a one-way system like other stores have announced, but Mr McDonald said there will be prominent signage and wayfinding to help customers who wish to keep their time in-store to a minimum, and they have reduced fixtures to create a feeling of more space.