This is a guest post by Andrew Busby, the Co-founder of SafePrem Solutions.
March 29, April 12, May 17, June 21 – Boris Johnson may have heavily caveated them, but the fact remains that for virtually all of us, those dates are indelibly fixed in our heads as we collectively prepare for ‘The Great Reveal’.
And leading the way on April 12 will, of course, be so called non-essential retail. I say ‘so called’ because the very concept is a misnomer. All retail is essential at varying times, according to our own personal circumstances.
The one thing that will be different about April 12 2021 – nearly a year after the same reopening last year – is that it’s been done before. But the challenges don’t remain the same as previously.
Because, apart from most likely needing to enlist the services of their local pest controller, this time around, retailers will be facing a very different customer, one with different demands and expectations.
Shopping Needs To Be Enjoyable
One thing this pandemic has done is to take all the enjoyment out of shopping. Where once it was a sensory, spontaneous activity, now it is far more utilitarian. It’s as if we’ve all had to learn to shop like men overnight.
Plan the strategy, select our target and execute. Job done.
But shopping’s not a military exercise, we take enjoyment from it (or at least we should be allowed to) but layer of restriction after restriction over the last twelve months has steadily removed all that.
And so it follows that to be successful, retailers will have to inject that enjoyment back into our experiences. But – and here’s the real challenge – all the while providing us with a safe environment in which to do so.
Because if there’s one thing that the last twelve months has done is to heighten our awareness of, and attitude to risk. Now of course, there is risk all around us, from navigating the stairs to climbing a step ladder. But this one is far more invidious and outside of our control which gives rise to our fear and anxiety. And fear is the strongest emotion we have.
We All Need To Feel Like VIPs
Time was when you booked an appointment with your dentist, with your hairdresser, with your stylist and maybe with your purveyor of fine art. But not with your local supermarket or your nearest branch of PC World. Well, the good news is that that’s all about to change.
Because, thanks to apps such as Qudini, we’re all going to be made to feel like VIPs in future. Whether it be virtual queuing (because frankly, who wants to stand in the rain to enter a shop?) or booking an appointment, our shopping experience is going to be very different in the future.
For years we’ve talked about ‘digitally transforming the retail experience’ and it’s felt more and more like a solution trying to find a problem. Well, the fundamental difference now is that the problem has come along in the shape of the pandemic, and it is companies like Qudini who are providing the solution.
Driven by the desire to feel safe from the virus, there is set to be an exciting transition from ‘safe’ shopping journeys to ‘smart’ journeys, where the physical experience will finally be digitally enabled, to the benefit of both retailer and consumer.