Shopping Safety & Expectations for the Future of Retail

Retail shopping expectations are shifting as consumer habits change. Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and general worry across the country have created a “new normal.” According to a survey from McKinsey & Company, four out of five Americans have not returned to pre-COVID activity levels. Consumers are spending more time online—working, shopping, and connecting with others.

Many states, like Missouri, have reopened since last spring. Stores, restaurants, and service-related retailers have been back open for months, using various tactics to help customers feel safe during their shopping or dining experience.

Today, shoppers coming into retail stores are more likely to buy—and know what they want to buy—instead of spending time browsing. Yet, many consumers still find contactless or online shopping experiences appealing and would like to see them continue in the future.

Strategies for Being Safe & Building Customer Trust

Most retail stores currently follow the CDC’s safety guidelines for businesses and workplaces. Many of these include wearing masks or face coverings, conducting daily health checks with employees, and implementing social distancing where possible.

More people are returning to work and other activities, so stores should make sure retail customers continue to feel safe shopping during a pandemic. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Traffic Flow

The flow of traffic into and throughout your retail store can affect social distancing. According to the Harvard Business Review, you can reduce the likelihood of customer interactions by creating a one-way path through your retail space. You can also reconfigure your store’s setup to create areas for browsing and areas for customers who need to grab items and go.

Physical Barriers

Cashiers need physical barriers, like plexiglass dividers, placed between them and the customers coming through the checkout line. But what other barriers can you set up on your retail property?

Displays are a creative and subtle way to create distancing barriers within your retail space. Plus, since sampling products in-store is no longer an option, product displays help you capture shoppers’ attention.

Make sure you talk with your landlord before making any permanent changes to your commercial retail property.

Self-Service Options

Retail customers are on the lookout for self-service options more than ever. Shopping during a pandemic means many customers want to reduce their encounters with others as much as possible. If you haven’t already, larger retailers may want to opt for more self-checkout stations that minimize interactions between customers and employees.

Online Shopping Experiences

Many retailers now offer an option to buy products online and pick them up at the store. Others offer curbside pickup where customers can call the store or use an app to let employees know they’ve arrived.

Smaller businesses may offer shopping opportunities through Facebook or Instagram. Online shopping will continue to grow in popularity—especially at a time like this. Retailers should think about how to connect with customers online and in the store.

How Are Expectations for Retail Stores Changing?

While feeling safe is one piece of the puzzle, many retail customers now expect new in-store and online shopping experiences. What should retail stores focus on? First and foremost: their in-store experiences.

Though the pandemic has increased online shopping habits, 79% of customers miss the social interactions that occur when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, according to a GlobalData survey from September 2020. Shopping at a physical store is not a thing of the past.

Touchless Shopping

To combine safety and efficiency, retail stores should offer more touchless shopping opportunities. Sixty-eight percent of shoppers claim they plan to utilize curbside collection more in the future. Offering curbside or in-store collection gives retail customers a convenient way to purchase and receive products.

Better Customer Service

In-store experiences in the future may focus on unique customer service opportunities geared toward keeping customers engaged. One example of this could be appointment-only shopping experiences, where shoppers receive one-on-one attention as they shop. Retail stores could further personalize the experience by using an app to recommend products based on a customer’s purchase history.

Find Retail Spaces for Rent

Are you searching for retail space to lease or rent?

Contact Commercial One Brokers. We will help you find commercial retail spaces for rent in Branson and Hollister, MO.

View our commercial real estate listings to see what’s currently available in the area.

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