Published: 22nd May 2020
Here's how the pandemic changing shopping and focussing now on making it faster, easier, safer
As the lockdown restrictions are being partially lifted in various parts of the world, many institutions, including shopping malls are reopening their doors
A reminder of mandatory masks, rearranged shelves, paying bills through a plexiglass divider, checking shoppers' temperatures at the door - the coronavirus crisis is changing the shopping experience, albeit, for a faster, easier, and a safer one.
As the lockdown restrictions are being partially lifted in various parts of the world, many institutions, including shopping malls are reopening their doors. "Everything was so different, if anything, it made the virus feel more real," the Washington Post quoted Tiara Show, a shopper as saying. The 23-year-old recalled her shopping experience at American Eagle Outfitters last week and said that the clothing company took measures like asking shoppers to use masks as a mandatory act, shelves had been pared down, and rearranged, with jeans in one area, shirts in another - to encourage hands-off browsing.
Every other fitting room was closed. After paying for her purchase -- shirts, shorts, and earrings -- through a plexiglass divider, Show tore the receipt from the printer herself. Moreover, entryway displays once piled high with apparel have become 'welcome tables' with bottles of hand sanitizer, disposable masks, and sticky blue mats that clean shoe soles. The new protocols, which already have been rolled out at 435, or nearly half, of its U.S. stores, offer a glimpse of how even the most innocuous interactions might be tempered.
"From the moment you walk into our store, we want you to see something that's new," the Washington Post quoted Andrew McLean, the company's chief commercial officer as saying. "The sticky mat, the welcome table -- they're all triggers in the customer's mind that things are different now," McLean added. Another measure to now limit the number of people in stores is using a mobile app to notify customers when it's their turn to shop.
Different shopping companies are following various precautionary measures to make the shopping experience way safer and systematic. As reported by the Washington Post, Apple stores are checking shoppers' temperatures at the door. Best Buy is asking customers to shop by appointment. Macy's and Nordstrom are doing away with beauty consultations and alteration services, meanwhile, the Gap is closing off bathrooms and fitting rooms.
On the other hand, cosmetics giant Sephora will not allow shoppers to test products anymore. Others are quarantining returns for as long as 72 hours before putting merchandise back on shelves.