As the shops open up and people venture outside home, albeit cautiously, retailers are coming up with innovative ways to ensure their customers can safely shop. Contactless delivery, sanitised stores, digital payments are some of the strategies coming to the fore.
"Physical formal is a big part of overall retail business and for most of the retailers it is also where the challenge lies. It also means as we reopen there will be a reinvention on how we approach consumers in the physical store," says Kavitha Krishnarao, Country Commercial Head, IKEA India.
In line with the flavour of the season, Swedish retailer IKEA said it is implementing Click and Collect feature in India so customers have an option to shop safely, said Krishnarao.
Click and Collect is part of IKEA's e-commerce strategy where at the time of checking out, customers will have an option to collect the order they have in the cart or get it delivered at their home. They can pay online and if they choose to Click and Collect, following the order, they will be informed through messaging or email of a time slot when they can pick their purchase from the Hyderabad store.
IKEA's delivery team will prepare their order for them to pick up from the Click & Collect collection station in the store's car parking area. The store team will notify the customer by text or email when they could come over to the store and collect it.
The Click & Collect service is to ensure minimal contact between the staff and customers', when the customers arrive to collect the products from the store. Currently, this facility is only available Hyderabad.
About 14 European countries have Click and Collect service in place since a few years, some of them are Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain. "We saw a lot of uptake for this service in Europe. Now we are bringing it to India," she said.
Krishnarao says that in addition to this, for customers who wish to shop in stores, there will be a lot of digital innovation. "We are looking at digital enablement technologies but these will come into play as we begin to open the store."
While the retailer is finalising the number of people and its strategy to maintain social distancing in stores, it is also looking at a plethora of technological solutions to engage consumers digitally, especially to resolve customer queries related to products. Some of the innovations on the card are a QR code for every product which contains its details or a mobile app with the additional product information. This will ensure safety of the store staff too. "Retailers in general will be exploring these innovations to build confidence in consumer to come back to stores," she says.