Open for business again

So how many weeks has it been now? Eight, nine? We can open our doors once more, but when you work in retail, that’s not automatically a cause for celebration. Relaxing the corona measures stirs mixed emotions in most people. Employees in retail are certainly happy things are shifting back to normal. But is it safe? And will everyone obey the rules? What are those rules, actually?

The customers coming this week could have shopped online. But they deliberately choose the shop. For its service, advice and personal contact. So that they could hold the product in their hands, or for the shopping experience. These customers deserve a warm welcome! Yet at the same time, pretty much all the good reasons you can think of for choosing the shop also pose a health risk.  

Wijnand Langen
Wijnand Langen Creative strategist

The shopping street won’t simply revert to the way it was. We have to adapt. Our routines, procedures, the shop layout. But: can we still create a positive customer experience when we have to observe so many rules?

Zone restrictions and face masks don’t produce happy customers. I saw a national retailer with a sign at the entrance: ‘No families allowed’. I was alone, but that did make me frown. A spokesperson for the chain referred to ‘customer incidents’ in an article. Later at ‘the (web)shop with amusing slogans as a trademark’ I saw a very different sign at the door: ‘Distance Conga’. That’s a whole lot better for the ambience.

Rules are restrictive, but also necessary. Nevertheless we can create a pleasant experience when implementing the rules, by taking care of three things.  

Three things

1. The psychology of prohibition

Prohibiting something is clear, but it always has a negative connotation. Neither is a prohibition a call to active behaviour. After all, you can’t NOT do something actively. Turn around the prohibition (‘Don’t cross this line’) where you can, to make it an encouragement (‘This is the best place to stand!’) The results can be surprising when you link an action to the reasons for doing it (‘Stand here to shop safely’). 

 A positive instruction gives the customer action perspective, and that creates a positive mindset. Shoppers aren’t having their freedom of movement restricted, but are contributing to solving the problem while still enjoying shopping.

As an example, see how they handled this in this shopping street in Zutphen.

2. The management style

In times of crisis, people want something to hold onto and the feeling that things will (eventually) be fine again. Research shows that leadership that fulfils these ‘needs’ can make the difference between apathy and involvement. People need hope and a point on the horizon. You should also act socially and with compassion. Be gentle where you can. A small gesture can make a big difference. It costs very little extra for a retailer to relax his return policy, but it gives the customer that little bit extra confidence.

3. Finding the right tone

How you get the message across is always important, especially when things go wrong. And that’s exactly when we often lose sight of this. Be creative and keep things light where you can. A little humour doesn’t detract from a serious message, but it does make it more palatable.  

Join the dance?

We have developed a programme for some of our retail customers to make shop employees and customers aware of the 1.5-metre distancing rule. We provided action perspective and hope, and chose creative packaging. The result is the social distancing dance. Inspired by the dance school’s floor patterns, we turned ‘Distancing, please’ into a friendly dance that makes this (temporary) measure clear and softens it with a smile. 

Learn more?

Covid-19 developments are evolving fast and have a major impact on the way employees can deliver service. We are developing an online campaign that will let employees work confidently and safely in their shops. Want to know more? Contact us

Learn more?

Read more