How Technology may help shopping centers become a safe place to be after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit off-line activity, all around the World. This situation is strongly impacting on shopping center and offline retailer activity. Nevertheless, the main problem is not the lockdown period, but the impact that will happen after it. That what is being called the new normal. COVID-19 has come to stay. Sorry for the bad news.

The new normal will be conditioned by different factors:

  • the length of lockdown,
  • the health conditions (research, vaccines, cures)
  • the economic crisis that the lockdown has created worldwide, what will set the speed of economic recovery.
  • the measures and protocols to be set.

COVID-19 itself and these factors are impacting in the consumers behavior in a deep way. An extreme concern about health, job and about the economic recovery are arising. We all are listening that the World will enter in a new worldwide economic crisis, even deeper than the previous one in 2008.

In this situation, we will need an extra motivation to come back to indoor spaces, with many people inside. It is a human.

And within this context, shopping centers has a major opportunity to show themselves as a “safe place to be”. A place to be like home: secure, healthy and trusty.

Consumers will need a healthier and safer environment, like they feel at home.

How to create a safe place to be for the new consumers?

Industry experts agree on the main measures to be put in place to transform shopping centers and retail stores in this new normal:

  1. Make emphasis in sanitization and safety.
  2. Manage people flow, establishing commercial circuits.
  3. Reduce capacity and in store people density.
  4. Increase communication about employees and visitors protection.
  5. Adaptation to the new way to play in the industry by redefining new contract models.

In all these areas, technology is going to be the key to lead this transformation.

And we should not miss the goal: make physical spaces trusty, and make people, all employees, visitors and shoppers feel safe. And getting it not because a marketing campaign but because shopping centers apply processes, protocols and monitor them to guarantee the maximum level of compliance and share the outcome with users. Setting high standard safety levels and show how good things are being done is key.  Transparency drives trust and trust will be an asset in the new normal.

How technology may help create a “safe place to be”?

  1. Control actual number of visitors inside.

Footfall is not enough. In the new normal, capacity limitation will be mandatory from a health safety point of view. And knowing it in real time a must. Otherwise, managers will not act on time.

Share this information with your visitors will increase calm and confidence in your mall or store.

  1. Monitor actual social distancing.

In this crisis, the most effective measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 has been keeping social distancing: 6 feet model. Indeed, this is the main measures and many of the others looks for helping keep a 6-feet distance in an indirect way.

Detecting anonymously and accurately people positions inside the space, social distancing accomplishment can be measured using technology

  1. Control spaces sanitation to be more efficient.

Sanitation is the new grail. Establishing a correct protocol to improve hygienic cleaning system and verifying that is being accomplished will be one of the most important transparency exercises.

There are many tech solutions. Nevertheless, accuracy on detection, full people coverage to have significant and relevant information and privacy will be outstanding elements to be considered. In that sense, Computer Vision Technology matches these requirements and can help in this issue in different ways:

  • Tracking the cleaning path during its performance.
  • Identify areas with higher people flow to clean them in a deeper way.
  • Heat maps of sanitization task activity in order to compare used areas with cleaning areas.
  1. Manage people flow and queues.

One of the most relevant measures to consider based on experts is having commercial circuits inside the retailers and in the shopping centers to avoid people crossing. It means, clearly defining flow direction in the corridors and common spaces. Tracking technology can verify the right use of the circuits, and in case, help managers to reinforce signages or communication.

Managing queues has been always a pain point for customers. And now, it will become into a key aspect to keep social distancing and increase health security in the reopening of physical spaces.

Conclusions

As we analyzed in the article about to create a safe work environment to return to work in the new normal , there is a bunch of possibilities to provide enough levels of trust and security to visitors and customers. .

As technology was and still is involved on controlling the COVID-19 spreading, technology will be helpful on our new and unknown style of life with the highest level of trust. It will be part of the close future and maybe, our new life.

There is an unparalleled opportunity for shopping centers to be safe and trusty places to be and stay. The new grail in the new era.