The nation has been under lockdown for more than 60 days due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It has led to a new way of life and business that we never imagined. The virus has impacted every industry across the globe with a complete halt in business activities. The physical retail segment has been one of the worst-hit sectors with no revenue in almost the past two months. The bigger worry for the segment is business continuity once the lockdown period ceases, and people gradually return to their lives. The post-COVID-19 world will be starkly different, and the primary concern of every business will be to ensure the safety of their patrons, even at the cost of restricting business activities. Given the situation, until the invention of a vaccine, people will be very cautious of places they are visiting and how they make purchases.
There are two significant trends that we see. One is the rise in health security segment, and the other is increased consumption and sales of home security devices. Once the lockdown is lifted, consumers will face increased anxiety concerning the security and well-being of their loved ones at home while they are out shopping. While there are video calling apps, many senior citizens face difficulty in using these apps. Similarly, children too find it intrusive of their space. Therefore, a Wi-Fi-based home camera which offers a two-way communication serves the need aptly. Similar, a concern on maintaining contactless engagement with visitors, e-commerce delivery personnel and others will give rise to the adoption of video door phones as a default at every home.
Health security as a segment will take centre stage in the coming days and successes of businesses will depend on how soon they can implement systems that will help customers to have a risk free retail experience. Below are some of the trends that retailers across individual outlets, malls and supermarkets should consider:
Thermal cameras optimized for flu detection – Post lockdown, thermal scanners will become a norm in the retail industry. It can ensure that people are screened before entering a mall or supermarket. While cameras with thermal sensors were previously only used in high-security zones like airports, now it is likely that we see thermal cameras at all public places, including retail malls. Thermal cameras can also indicate over-crowding in a particular area, thus helping authorities take quick action and reduce chances of any infection spread.
Touch-less technology – Minimal human intervention can reduce the spread of contagious viruses to a considerable level. Doors will be sensor-based, and voice-enabled technology will see an upsurge. In the new normal, all security systems will be developed using technology that does not require a direct human touch. Up until now, voice was used primarily in home-assistants, now they can be seen in elevators where people can use their voice to indicate the floor they want to reach. Mobile payments will also become a preferred way of a transaction without the involvement of a credit card or cash.
Mandatory Sanitization – Due to the onset of the novel coronavirus, citizens, commercial spaces and retail outlets have realized the importance of sanitization more than ever. It becomes especially important as customers as well as retailers repeatedly touch surfaces and objects. There is technology innovation like tripod turnstiles with built-in sanitizer dispenser, which helps in a seamless sanitation process without any human intervention. In this way, sanitization can be made mandatory to ensure that the process is followed diligently before entering any premise.
Artificial Intelligence – A well-designed combination of artificial intelligence, cameras, and intrusion control, facial recognition can work as a biometric technology for employees in malls and supermarkets. As traditional biometric systems become obsolete due to the need for fingerprints, facial recognition will become the key solution for access management.
Post-lockdown, with governments indicating operations with 33-50% staff, more human resources should be directed at operating core business function; and security should be only monitored with minimum human intervention. Malls and other public spaces will see a change in their security systems. These systems will comprise intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, and emergency communication systems. To thrive as a country post-lockdown and resume daily function, commercial space owners need to take note of their servicing staff. While retail outlets have been meeting basic security surveillance, by adopting a more extensive security system trend can improve the usability of the facility, as well as create opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity, while instilling more confidence and trust amongst consumers.
These healthcare systems are going to help governments and citizens pave a healthier life where we eliminate the risk of future viruses and total lockdowns. By proactively adopting such security equipment, markets and trade can also function effectively without coming to an absolute halt, in case of any pandemics.