Retailers around the globe suffered a massive hit to their 2020 profits when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close for anywhere from several weeks to several months. As retail stores across the United States prepare to reopen for business, those companies are realizing that they’re not out of the woods when it comes to their own economic recovery.

Even with permission from local governments to reopen, businesses are tasked with making significant operational and retail design changes. These new challenges are driving a slate of new initiatives and trends throughout the retail industry. Here are five major changes you can expect to see across the post-pandemic retail landscape.

1. One-Way Aisles and Rearranged Interiors

Interior retail design will require a dramatic transformation of how most retail stores are set up. Inventory may need to be thinned out in retail stores to provide better space to support social distancing guidelines. As temperatures warm up in the northern hemisphere, some retail stores might explore outdoor retail design options, such as sidewalk or parking lot sales, to expand their inventory offerings while providing safe, open-air options for socially distanced shopping.

Inside, many retailers are developing plans to set up one-way shopping aisles in their stores. This will limit the instances of shoppers crossing paths at close quarters, allowing customers to keep their social distance while navigating a retail space.

2. Communicating New Rules and Expectations to Shoppers

Regardless of what safety precautions each store adopts for itself, those stores need to communicate those rules and expectations to their shoppers. If masks or other in-store behaviors are required, stores will need to post signs and communicate guidelines to their customer base. Additional safety measures will require the understanding and adherence of customers to improve safety for all employees and shoppers.

To communicate these expectations, stores serving a multilingual customer base will need to post signage and guidelines in those predominant customer languages. Large retailers may need to create new employee guidelines and translate those policies into all the languages spoken by their employees.

3. Increased Shopping-by-Appointment

To manage in-store crowds while still serving their customer base, some retailers are offering shopping-by-appointment to their customer base. This can include shopping experiences assisted by a personal shopper, or it can simply be used to distribute in-store shopping time without forcing customers to stand in line, potentially hazardous lines outside the store.

Stores may choose to offer by-appointment shopping exclusively, or in combination with walk-in shopping.

4. Expanded Delivery and To-Go Services

Restaurants have leaned on takeout and delivery to provide a revenue stream while indoor dining has been restricted. But restaurants aren’t the only ones turning to delivery and to-go services to bolster their revenue. Delivery and in-store pickup has grown in popularity among both retailers and their customers, with many retail companies exploring creative ways to use these services. 

One Minneapolis-based cleaning service, for example, is offering to-go cleaning kits for businesses that need to clean their workspaces according to new CDC guidelines, offering an alternative to in-person professional cleaning services. Other retailers are offering services like curbside pickup and drive-thru pickup as options that allow customers to pick up purchases with minimal contact.

5. Technology to Drive Product-Testing, Payments and More

One solution to the challenges of how to design retail space after the pandemic has to do with using technology to minimize contact. Retailers are now making deeper investments into technology that supports everything from contactless payment to product-testing through augmented reality and other innovative tools. This push to modernize and embrace digital transformation may be spurred on by a public health crisis, but it’s driving change that will continue to appeal to customers after the pandemic has passed.

As retail businesses start the reopening process, a return to normal operations will take place gradually over time. These companies will need to balance their own operating costs and revenue challenges alongside local government regulations and evolving customer behaviors.

Need help translating signage and employee policies for your retail corporation? Contact Protranslating today.

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