By Puja Gupta
June 2, 2020 (IANSlife) After being shut for more than two months due to the pandemic and government mandated lockdown, the Indian retail sector is slowly resuming operations, imbibing new norms to ensure the hygiene and safety of its customers and staff.
As India enters into ‘Unlock 1.0’ phase which has eased lockdown norms, retailers believe it is important to rebuild consumers' trust for their businesses to be back on track. And ensuring an effective safety and hygiene process is the only way out.
“Due to 100 percent closure of our partner retail stores during the month of April our revenues were severely impacted. But our number one priority at this time is to ensure the health and safety of our consumers. We feel that our consumers will come back to our stores if we are able to win their trust by providing a safe and healthy shopping environment. We are quite confident that we will see our business starting to come back on track by the next quarter and we will start seeing growth again around the festive season,” notes Akash Goyle, Country Manager and Managing Director at Luxottica India.
Apart from adhering to the guidelines issued by the Central and state governments which includes ensuring social distancing, sanitising and disinfecting all high-touch areas, temperature checks and wearing masks and gloves, retail stores are taking extra precautions by restricting product trials, limiting the number of people through appointment based selling, quick shopping options like orders on phone, among others.
Luxury skincare brand Forest Essentials, which has opened 12 of its stores across India, has discontinued all the testers placed at their stores and live demonstrations of products on customers as a safety measure.
“We have trained all our in store beauty consultants on hygiene practices as recommended by the WHO and United Nations. To avoid the exchange of currency notes or handling of credit cards by store associates, purchases can be charged by phone prior to pick-up, or customer credit card information can be taken verbally at the store, or Paytm is advisable. Shelf talkers with messages like - no product trials, please refrain from touching, or trying products are also put,” informs Samrath Bedi, Executive Director, Forest Essentials.
Awareness, training and technology are the key drivers to ensure that retail stores provide a safe environment for their own employees as well as the consumers while ensuring that consumer experience and ability to make the best choice is not impaired.
Fashion designer Payal Khandwala has launched a “one-of-a-kind virtual shopping experience” for her customers who would like to shop for the brand's products from the comfort of their homes. Keeping the customer's health and safety in mind, the service lets the patrons select and try clothing that will be delivered to their home.
While most of the brands have restricted trails of its products, apparel brand Cantabil, which re-opened its exclusive brand stores across the country, has allowed the use of trial rooms. However, the clothes tried by the customers will be kept in separate boxes for 24 hours, and will later be sanitized.
Luxottica, which is design, manufacture and distribution of fashion, luxury and sports eyewear business, is planning to offer Virtual Try-on to their retail partners for their entire range of frames and sunglasses. “This will limit the need of the end consumer to physically touch multiple products before purchase,” points out Goyle.
Customized and personalized skin and hair care solutions brand Kaya Ltd also plans to maintain the highest protocols on social distancing and not allow more than four clients visiting any clinics per hour, only through prior appointments.
“Clients will be concerned about social distancing and hence wouldn’t like to enter crowded spaces. Hence, will start with 50 percent of the normal appointments and progressively scale up to 75 percent,” says Rajiv Nair – Group CEO, Kaya Limited.
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Puja Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org