Innovative products retailers are using to keep customers safe and meet public health requirements.
As all businesses were forced to pivot from “normal” to “lockdown”…and then from “lockdown” to the “new normal”, we’ve all had to respond to the ever changing operating environment. But besides healthcare – no line of business was greater affected than the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industry.
As the Toronto businessman, Charles Khabouth clearly explained in the recent Toronto Star article titled ‘Give us a chance to survive’: One of Toronto’s most successful restaurateurs says bars and restaurants have been unfairly singled out – the challenges facing retailers and restaurateurs during the Coronavirus outbreak are both ongoing and endless.
And while most retailers, like Khabouth, continue to struggle to keep up with the ever-changing local public health requirements through renovations, process changes, training, retraining, etc – what we’re all fighting against is the fact that according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, “80% of common infections are spread by hands.”
Every day, in every one of our locations dangerous bacteria and virus cells are transferred onto high touch surfaces and become sources of infectious diseases.
So public opinion, socio-economic factors, and “pandemic fatigue” aside – as businesses that welcome the public into our spaces, we have a duty to our customers and staff to not only keep them safe, but to still strive to give the best experience possible.
So, knowing what we’re up against – we thought it was time to put together the definitive list of the 6 MUST HAVE PRODUCTS EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS to keep customers and staff safe.
#1 – Acrylic Shields & “Sneeze Guards”
While it seems like the natural go-to (perhaps if you were teaching the class, HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS DURING CORONAVIRUS:101 these would be the first thing you covered), but acrylic shields and plexiglass sneeze guards custom-designed for your locations, checkout counters, desks, and workstations is the first line of defence.
Earlier in the year all businesses rushed to get anything they could call a sneeze guard installed – today we’re circling back around with most customers to design and install custom acrylic shields that go above minimum standards, taking key customer experience elements into account.
- How can sneeze guards and acrylic shields be designed and installed to reduce glare and poor lighting conditions for the elderly and those with accessibility issues? Especially important in pharmacy and grocery settings.
- What type, thickness, finish, and quality of material best stands up to continuous cleaning in high-traffic areas? To avoid scuffs and scratches that come from normal daily use.
- How can these shields both meet local health regulations while also making speaking to customers, hearing, and communicating easier? Especially important for private health information, but also important for those customers where English is a second language.
- As these shields are in high-traffic, highly-visible spaces – how can select parts of the shield be strategically used for promotions and product callouts?
A thoughtfully considered, well placed, and fully leveraged acrylic shield can take your customer experience from a prison-like feeling to the extraordinary shopping experience you’re striving for.
Learn more about how to order CUSTOM ACRYLIC SCREENS here.
#2 – Self-sanitizing Adhesives Are the Future of “Clean”
While nothing replaces cleaning procedures, innovative new self-sanitizing products are now hitting the market.
For example, a brand new product that’s proven in lab tests to start to destroy bacteria and viruses, including Coronavirus, viRepel AC transforms high-touch surfaces like door handles, payment keypads, and checkout counters into self-sanitizing surfaces.
Basically, viRepel AC is a copper-infused adhesive film that uses antimicrobial copper to start destroying bacteria and viruses on contact. And these types of adhesive films can be applied to almost any surface – including touch screens.
So something like viRepel AC not only works to keep your customers and staff safer, but by installing it inside your locations you’re literally advertising to every customer that walks through your doors that you’re keeping high-touch surfaces clean and your environment safe.
What’s most relevant of course is the fact that it works: “viRepel AC starts to compromise the Coronavirus on contact. After one hour, there is a 90% reduction in infectious virus. After 6 hours, the virus is 99.9999% destroyed.” Richard Gibson, Director of Operations at ImPaKT Facility, University of Western Ontario.
Developed by materials scientists to fight the spread of germs, viRepel AC is the only copper-infused self-sanitizing adhesive that shows every customer that your high-touch surfaces have an extra level of protection.
Learn more about viRepel AC here.
#3 – Floor Decals That Sell
Keeping everyone safe starts with keeping people at least 6-feet apart. Now, it may be tempting to just get the cheapest floor decal possible (heck, we’ve seen people grab a can of spray paint and go to town), but consider that your floor decals can be so much more than a mark on the floor telling people to stand and wait.
Consider that all a floor decal really is is a marker for your traffic flow paths – but in planning those traffic flows you can:
- Plan for both indoor floor decals and outdoor street decals – choose from a wide list of durable materials that are purpose-built for the right location, conditions, and the flooring or ground you’ll be attaching them to. The right floor decals will apply smooth, stick really well, and are slip resistant.
- Choose from readymade vs custom decals and stickers – readymade decals and fast and easy, but custom decals give you the chance to surprise and delight customers with branded messages.
- By planning for, and forcing traffic patterns throughout your space you can anticipate where people will go and where they will stand and wait – why not build custom or feature product displays and design your floor decals to call out the feature products, discounts and sales, or more.
Learn more about our custom branded floor decals and vinyl printing services here.
#4 – Automatic Glove Dispensers
Once reserved only for clinics and healthcare, wall mounted, countertop stand, or free-standing glove dispensers give your customers the ability to level-up their PPE.
Standard PPE dispensers are great for making face masks and latex gloves visible and easy to reach – for both customers and staff alike.
But an innovative automotive glove dispenser that was featured at last year’s IndustryForum Retail event in Germany really caught our eye.
This automatic glove dispenser senses when a hand is near, starts to blow a little puff of air to open up the glove and makes slipping the glove onto a shopper’s hand simple and easy – without the need to touch anything.
This cool new product is perfect for grocery stores, fresh produce, and businesses that require customers to glove up.
#5 – Hand Sanitizing Stations
Whether it’s an automatic Hand Sanitizer Dispenser or a manual-push one, wall mounted or free standing – having clearly marked hand sanitizing stations available at your entrance and throughout your spaces is a must.
- Are your stations clearly visible, labeled, and in high-traffic locations?
- Can you share some simple and light info on the type of sanitizer used (consider viscosity, scent, etc)?
- Can you add a branded message to make the experience more delightful?
- Should you have a mat or floor protector to catch overflow and drips?
#6 – Disinfectant Wipes and Wet Wipe Dispensers
While some retailers struggle to source disinfectant wipes or simply consider it an unwarranted expense – going the extra mile for your customers and giving them wipes is not only a really easy thing to do, but it gives proactive, high-risk, and worried shoppers the tools they need to feel safe.
So keep your disinfecting wipes accessible.
We suggest a free-standing stainless steel canister that combines a wipe dispenser at the top with a garbage pail bottom. These are not only easy to stock and clean, but the stainless steel finish often blends into most retail environment’s decor.
Just getting by was enough at first…
As we faced the new realities of Coronavirus early on, it was just about getting by. And slap-dash “protected retail” products like temporary sneeze guards or dropping a bottle of hand sanitizer on a checkout counter might have been enough – but clearly this pandemic and these consumer shopping habits are things we’ll be challenged with for many months and even years in the future.
For retail, restaurants, and hospitality businesses who are serious about getting through 2020 and 2021 – coming out the other side stable and ready for growth – it’s time to invest in innovative protected retail products that go well-beyond meeting local health regulations, but actually help set your customer experience apart.
Especially when you consider how little other businesses are doing right now – this could be the thing that separates you from the rest.
Our team of custom retail fixture and retail environment designers have their fingers on the pulse of the most innovative products, procedures, and hacks retailers are using to keep customers and staff safe during the Coronavirus.
Contact us to set up a time to talk about how our team can help you make 2021 a year of growth.