Covid-19 has greatly impacted our lives and transformed the way we live. In the time when the world has a new definition of ‘Normal’, various businesses too have planned to define new strategies that can help them outdo the limitations and enable them adapt to the changing dynamics. Like every other business, retail stores too have their set of challenges to overcome in the post covid era.
The new designing concepts
Post reopening, the retail stores would be required to take extra precautions to contain the spread of deadly Covid-19. Therefore, it would be important to consider the current and the future requirements while designing these retail stores. The designers should take into contemplation the concept of social distancing in the designs which may lead to occupation of extra space by 1 person in the store than the usual. The average sq foot of area occupied by 1 person would increase from minimum 15 sq feet to minimum of 30-35 sq feet. This would decrease the number of people present in the store at a time, but would increase their security and would allow them to adhere to social distancing norms.
Various design solutions that could be incorporated in the existing model could be looked upon. Some of them are
- Creating a separate entrance and exit for the customers. This will help prevent any contact of customers during entry and exit. Separate entrance and exit path would solve the circulation problem in the store and might help in preventing long queues outside. With this set-up the process of sanitization would become easier and compulsory during the entry and exit.
- The counters could be arranged in such a manner where social distancing is followed and maximum number of customers can be entertained with following the norms of social distancing. The store managers need to create an arrangement of counters which enforces social distancing without actually realising. Such a design can be implemented in the existing stores as well and taken care while designing a new store.
- Another innovative way is placing the counters diagonally facing outwards, where one customer is served on one counter by one of the employees. Counters which were previously placed adjacent to each other can now be placed at a certain distance, to increase the social distance between them. Placing these service counter diagonally outwards can increase the distance create social distancing without anyone being consciously aware of it .
- Adding glass in front of the counter could also help the retail stores to follow the extra precautions against coronavirus. With the use of glass, the customers could see the products clearly without touching them. This could be necessary as not all the articles can be sanitised every time. Some of the products may get damaged if sanitized repeatedly. Therefore, taking this precaution is very extremely necessary.
- Most importantly, the stores should add a catalogue of the products which could be shared on the customers’ phone or given handy to them. This will limit the interaction between customer and the sales person and allow communication only while purchasing or when necessary. Another way to go ahead is creating browsing counters for customers, where customers comes in the store and can browse the products on a tablet fixed to a counter, order the product, pay and pick it up from the main counter. This technique was followed by a few brands even before the pandemic. This will make social distancing very easy in the stores however it will involve heavy use of technology to minimize human contact.
- Alternative precautionary step that most of the retailers are already taking, is putting up footsteps mark on the floor which guides the customer where to stand, hence maintaining social distancing.
Given the current situation, it becomes extremely imperative to take all the precautionary steps in order to ensure health and safety of self and others. Making minor changes in the designs and setup can help the retail stores to overcome some of the challenges brought in by covid 19 and try head back to normalcy.