Some of the most creative and useful innovations we've spotted in recent weeks aiming to help stores cater to shoppers safely and efficiently
As more regions of the world continue to ease lockdown measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic — including the United Kingdom earlier this week — questions on how to best reopen physical shopping areas abound.
Whilst we expect the expanded use of eCommerce solutions to continue being a factor, most retailers and restaurants must find effective ways to serve consumers in-person in order to survive unprecedented levels of disruption.
Springwise has been tracking how some brick-and-mortar stores are already tapping into new innovations that make it easier to enforce social distancing and improve customer service during what remains an uncertain time. At the same time, new prototypes are being designed at a rapid pace that could make their way into a store near you in the not-so-distant future.
Here are seven of the most creative and useful innovations we’ve spotted in recent weeks aiming to help brick-and-mortar businesses cater to shoppers safely and efficiently.
1. SUPERMARKET INSTALLS TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING
Supermarket chain Aldi has launched an “automated traffic light system” across its UK stores to ensure that social distancing measures keep in place as lockdown measures continue to be eased. It is set up at the entrance of the store, working in tandem with the outdoor queuing system.
Depending on the size and layout of the store, each one has a specific number of customers it can allow in at a time to enable a two-metre distance. The traffic light system tracks customers going in and out of the store. The light will show red and only turn green when there is enough space in the store for the next customer to safely enter.
2. SANITISING TUNNELS AND BOOTHS COULD HELP RETAILERS FIGHT COVID-19
Mumbai-based retail décor firm, Surreal Design Studio, has created developed tunnels and booths that can be used at the entrance of high-density public hotspots. These walk-in systems provide individuals with a touch-free experience and can sanitise them within a five-second time frame. They are fitted with an integrated supply and drainage system to ensure no spillage or maintenance issues. With social distancing measures in place, the tunnels allow for approximately 750 walk-ins per hour.
3. IN-STORE ALERT DEVICE HELPS ENSURE SOCIAL-DISTANCING
The San Diego-based tech company Indyme, who specialise in shopper engagement and loss prevention, is aiming to make social distancing easier to follow inside shops selling essential items, such as groceries and pharmacies.
The SmartDome is easy to install and able to be adapted for checkouts, counters, entrances and busy parts of the shop. It is similar to a security camera, and it watches customers and sends out messages if they are disobeying the rules of social-distancing, such as “for your safety, please maintain at least six feet of social distance”.
4. WHATSAPP CHATBOT HELPS CUSTOMERS FIND THE PERFECT TIME TO SHOP
The supermarket chain Lidl recently launched a WhatsApp chatbot in Ireland, with which customers can converse, and find the quietest times at their local stores.
Customers simply have to send the chatbot a message on WhatsApp stating the time and day they intend to visit the store. Using real-time data and customer transaction numbers, the chatbot will respond with an automated message notifying the sender if the particular day and time is usually a quiet, average or busy time to shop. The chatbot can also give information on store opening hours.
5. CONTACTLESS DINING KIT SERVES RE-OPENING RESTAURANTS
The American restaurant tech company Presto is hoping to make reopening easier by providing a contactless dining kit free to restaurants that request it.
The Presto kit provides QR code stickers and tent cards that allow diners to view the menu and place their order using their phones. For diners who don’t have their phone, or don’t want to use it, orders can also be displayed and placed using a tablet, which is included in the kit. Orders can be sent directly to the restaurant’s own point of sale system, eliminating the need for staff to enter them into the POS systems.
6. MALL REPLACE LIFT BUTTONS WITH FOOT PEDALS TO AVOID VIRUS SPREAD
In Thailand, the Seacon Square mall in Bangkok recently introduced lift foot pedals, which allow visitors to call the elevator and choose a destination level without pushing anything by hand.
The foot pedals are inside each lift and outside each entrance and are only one of a number of new social distancing and safety measures in place throughout the mall. Citizens began returning to public spaces in late May 2020, and shoppers complete health screenings before entering. Hand sanitisers have been installed throughout, social distancing markers have been placed on the floor of each elevator, and tables in the food court have been separated to provide for the required distance between diners.
7. REDESIGNED LOCAL FOOD MARKETS WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING IN MIND
Rotterdam-based Shift architecture urbanism design studio created a hyperlocal market design that keeps shoppers safe while social distancing.
Any open-air market can use the design. Rather than congregating in a single location, the market’s vendors split into groups of threes and set up around the outside of a 16-square grid with a single entrance and two exits.
16th June 2020