Many retailers have taken a blow to the bottom line as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The necessary temporary closure of brick and mortar locations across the country to prevent the spread of the disease obviously impacted sales. But now that stores are beginning to reopen, we’re talking a lot about how the retail industry can utilize retail technology to ensure shoppers and employees stay safe while helping our clients make up for lost ground and possibly even grow their revenue. Below our retail design experts lay out five ways technology could do just that.

1. Incorporate Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS) Systems

Prior to COVID-19, some retailers implemented mobile point of sale (MPOS) systems to eliminate central cash-wraps where long checkout lines could form. Now, with occupancy limitations and social distancing recommendations in place, getting customers in and out of your store quickly while maintaining good customer service will help give revenue a fighting chance. MPOSs give employees the flexibility to check out customers in locations throughout the store, supporting both infection control guidelines and customer convenience for speedy service.

2. Touch-Free Checkout

This growing retail technology is convenient, to say the least. But it could also be the ultimate social-distancing solution for shopping inside stores. Essentially, merchandise is tracked through sensors and cameras and added to a shopper’s “digital” cart as they take things from the shelves. When a customer is done shopping, they’re charged for the items they collected as they exit the store. So, with this tech, retailers can facilitate a fast, hassle-free, and contact-free shopping experience that encourages shoppers to return without hesitation.

3. Shopper Tracking/People Counting Systems

One of the keys to fighting the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, but when it comes to in-store shopping this can be a challenge. Many retailers have placed a limit on the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time to promote social distancing. However, their approach to monitoring that limit is often to designate an employee to count shoppers as they enter and exit the store. Effective? Sure. Efficient? Probably not. Shopper tracking and people counting technology can free up employees to tend to other operational tasks and give retailers more advanced insights on customer traffic patterns and behaviors so they can determine optimum store layouts.

4. App-Based Shopping by Appointment

Everyone wants to feel special. However, when a store has no infection control occupancy limits, it can be hard to give shoppers any special treatment. Mobile applications that facilitate shopping by appointment can help customers view their shopping experience as exclusive, rather than inconvenient. They’ll have unrestricted access to fitting rooms and merchandise without the fear of infection from a crowd looming over their time in the store. Good news is many retailers already have this retail technology developed. Mobile applications for brands are essentially ubiquitous these days and implementing shopping by appointment would only require store operations to be re-evaluated.

5. Enhancing the Prominence and Quantity of Digital Displays

The importance of digital displays can’t be underestimated. This was true long before infection control became a key design consideration for retailers. In the post-COVID environment, increasing the quantity and prominence of digital displays can have several benefits. Digital displays can convey critical messaging and instructions to customers about safe shopping habits within the store. Utilizing displays for infection control messaging can reassure customers that the store is taking proper precautions to keep them safe and help them overcome any mental barriers to continuing their “normal” shopping habits. Digital signage can also amplify branding and highlight sales initiatives to both shoppers inside the store and those who might be in queue waiting to enter in the hopes that it will increase spending.

illustration of retail store showing techologies

Even during this challenging time, retailers can be strategic in the retail technology they invest in to ensure they’re focusing on solutions that will have a lasting impact. Many of the solutions we’ve outlined require careful consideration of store design and building systems to determine whether they can be implemented quickly, efficiently, and at a scale required to span national locations. As leaders in retail design, we’re available with broad experience and insight to discuss the options above as well as infection control solutions that just might be the keys to bringing revenue back to the industry. Contact us to learn more.


About the Authors

Brent Felten

Retail Technology Practice Leader | Principal
A powerhouse at Henderson Engineers, Brent has a deep passion for the design and construction industry. He drives client satisfaction by troubleshooting, analyzing data, responding quickly to any needs as they arise, and by anticipating situations before they become problems. He brings a high level of drive to each project ensuring success for our clients. With a degree focused in architectural engineering, Brent owns a reputation for delivering clean, well-developed spaces. From healthcare to retail to corporate, he offers valuable insight of design in a broad base of business sectors.

Bret Willett

Specialty Retail Practice Leader | Principal
As Henderson’s specialty retail practice leader, Bret spends his days overseeing project teams that focus on world-renowned brands with locations from New York to LA. An engineer since he was old enough to stack alphabet blocks, Bret loves connecting with our clients to create buildings that are as revered as the brands inside. His precise and methodical approach means he understands why the small details matter as much as the big systems. It’s also why our clients know they can trust Bret to not only understand their vision, but to help bring it to life through building systems that enhance the brand experience for everyone who walks through the front doors.