The new normal at the point of sale

By Mark Crysell, Regional Sales Director: Northern Europe, MEA and APAC, Ergonomic Solutions.

In the wake of Covid-19, retail is among the sectors that have been particularly adversely affected. Other outlets such as food and pharmaceutical, the doors of most brick and mortar stores have been mandatorily closed until the coronavirus is deemed no longer to be such a major threat to public health.

Understandably, these are proving to be unprecedently challenging times for many retailers and their workforce. Moreover, when stores do open to the public again, a full return of customer confidence will be based on a variety of further challenges including the recovery of customers’ disposable income and their trust in reports that the virus is no longer such a formidable, existential threat.

High street retail was already under considerable pressure before the Covid-19 pandemic struck; with many retailers putting considerable energy into merging their off-line/online offerings in order to make the purchasing experience for customers as enjoyable and convenient as possible. Now, they also have these major social and health issues to contend with.

Moreover, when stores start to reopen there is no guarantee that customer behaviour will immediately return to its pre-Covid-19 state so retailers are still going to need to keep abreast of that changing landscape and still manage customer and staff expectations around health & safety. With these and other challenges in mind, one of the most critical areas where retail technology and more importantly, how you mount it, will have real resonance with both staff and customer is at the point of sale, where both find themselves in close proximity.

Mark Crysell: “Providing a safe working and purchasing environment will provide peace of mind for all, should enable social distancing, and demonstrate to customer and employee alike that the store takes their wellbeing very seriously.”

Compact form factor

Whether within fashion, grocery or any other type of retail outlet, checkout counter space is always at a premium and needs to be able to deliver as seamless and frictionless an experience for the customer as possible. Putting a physical barrier in place to create a greater sense of wellbeing and security can, if not done correctly, only diminish the service levels customers now expect as a given. Therefore, it is highly advisable to ensure that the mounting solutions in place can facilitate this timely addition to the point of sale whilst still enabling the technology to complete transactions quickly and efficiently.

Avoid the need for custom modification of counter or furniture

To be in the best position to react to changes in customer behaviours towards technology and customer service in general, the rule of thumb should always be to seek a POS system that doesn’t require custom modification of the counter or surrounding furniture to ensure service viability in the future. Look for a provider that can supply interchangeable solutions that exploit the original design principles of flexibility and modularity.

The current, extreme situation has lead Ergonomic Solutions, working in conjunction with long time technology partner, Diebold Nixdorf, to offer the SafeGuard Screen – a low-cost and simple-to-install acrylic screen that creates that safety barrier for everyone at the point of sale.

It is an unobtrusive solution, which does not affect the current operator/customer interface. For example, the customer display can be on the customer side of the screen and likewise, the payment terminal and loyalty scanner.

Importantly, Safeguard Screens can be installed and up and running within a short timeline and within a modest budget. This also ensures the customer experience is not interrupted. It can even help to promote customer loyalty and safety through minimal disruption to retail operations and customer engagement.

Safeguarding social distancing at the point of sale.

Cleanliness and safety

Also, look for screens and mounts that can maintain required hygiene levels by being easy to clean with anti-bacterial wipes, bleach or any common disinfectant. Cleanliness is paramount, so the POS system should ideally have a smooth acrylic surface that can be easily cleaned and disinfected without causing any damage or degradation to the surface.

Peace of mind

Providing a safe working and purchasing environment will provide peace of mind for all, should enable social distancing, and demonstrate to customer and employee alike that the store takes their wellbeing very seriously. That is just as well, since it is where the loyalty of the future may well reside. With increasing options, customers’ treatment by retailers in these extraordinary times is unlikely to be forgotten and will influence their destinations of choice and with whom they spend their money, with confidence.

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