A Ranking of Retailers' In-Store Safety Readiness
The outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020 and subsequent government-mandated stay-at-home orders forced the closure of many brick-and-mortar retail stores for several months. However, as orders expired and government restrictions eased, retailers began reopening their stores with safety measures in place to inform and protect shoppers from contracting the coronavirus. How well are they doing in that area? A new report from NAPCO Research addresses that very question in its new report, Retailer Readiness: COVID-19 In-Store Safety Index.
Beginning in mid-July 2020, NAPCO Research conducted an in-store review of 100 top retailers’ COVID-19 measures based on 29 unique criteria, including signage, safety messaging, traffic, technology, and friendliness/experience. From that in-store research, it compiled a ranking of the top 25 retailers by overall score.
Best Buy took the top spot in those rankings by earning 82 percent of all possible points in the assessment. Its particular strengths were in the safety and traffic categories, including measures like having employees clean high-touch areas after each transaction.
Best Buy was followed by Ulta Beauty, which received 80 percent of the total points available. The cosmetics retailer changed long-standing store practices by ending most product testing, covering up makeup samples, and using floor stickers and arrows to guide smoother traffic flow and ensure social distancing.
Urban Outfitters finished in third place, earning 78 percent of the total possible points in the assessment. It effectively used signage both to inform shoppers as well as move them throughout the store to checkout.
In addition to the rankings, the report features key findings from the in-store research. Here are just a couple of those key findings:
- Masks Are the New Normal: Nearly all - 90 percent - of retailers scored well on using signage to promote face coverings, as well as enforcing compliance for shoppers (96 percent) and employees (100 percent). Some retailers further built confidence by having store associates wear gloves and clean high-touch areas after transactions.
- Low-Touch With Contactless and Curbside: Retail stores are increasingly using technology to create a less-friction, more convenient customer experience at payment (81 percent offer contactless) and purchase pickup. For example, 29 percent of retailers have invested in inventory and order management systems to facilitate buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup options.
Lastly, the report provides retailers with actionable steps they can take within their own brick-and-mortar stores to create a safe, welcoming environment that will be effective at winning back reluctant consumers. Here are a few tips offered in the report:
- Replace, update and supplement your in-store signage on a regular basis. While some stores have only been reopened for a few weeks or months, others that were deemed essential stayed open throughout the pandemic with signage that worked in a pinch, but now might be faded or torn.
- Disseminate information, starting right on your website’s homepage (or easily discovered and linked from there), that provides details into your in-store COVID-19 safety measures. For example, a mask requirement; contactless payment options; curbside pickup availability; link to local store hours.
- Invest more time and resources in employee training. Store associates should know how to more quickly locate needed items, find help for shoppers, or safely open additional registers when customer lines become too long and/or not socially distanced.
For more insights on how effective retailers have been at preparing their stores for the safe return of in-store shoppers — including real-life examples of what brands are getting right as well as what they're getting wrong — as well as actionable steps that your business can take as it operates in this "new normal," download the complimentary report, Retailer Readiness: COVID-19 In-Store Safety Index, today.
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