COVID-19 effects in Retail: How to Control The Social Distancing
Social distancing, quarantine, and isolation are some of the terms that we face nowadays. The researchers highlight that it’s so crucial to limit face-to-face interaction with other people in order to reduce the spreading speed of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
How to Protect Yourself and Others?
Cleaning your hands often, avoiding close contact, covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you are around other people, cleaning, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces are some of the ways to protect yourself and others from the virus.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing is one of the best ways to stay safe. Social distancing, in other words, physical distancing, stands for keeping space between yourself and other people. It is suggested that you need to stay at least 1,5 meters away from other people to avoid being exposed to the virus and slowing its spread around yourself and the world.
Staying at home as much as possible is recommended by the experts. But sometimes, you need to go outside to meet your basic needs such as getting food, buying something, going to a pharmacy. In that kind of situation, retailers need to take an active role to keep their customers and employees healthy and safe.
How Does the Virus Affect Market Capitalization Across Sectors?
According to the McKinsey’s COVID-19 report, market capitalization has declined across sectors, with significant variation to the extent of the decline. The retail industry has shown a decline too. Since mid-March, after the outbreak happens retail industry affected. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, retailers take some precautions.
What are the Precautions that Retailers Can Take to Keep People Healthy?
Retailers need to play a significant role in keeping the disease back. It’s so crucial to keep their employees and other people safe. Retailers are adopting meticulous cleaning practices.
Even some malls, shops are closed, some of them open in limited time with a limited customer. The latest wave of measures that retailers take into consideration is to maintain social distancing. They have to keep the social distance between people and control the number of customers in the store.
Although retail stores try to maintain social distancing, it is not possible to keep these measures. Because most retail stores aisle width were based on shopper traffic and service level expectations, not the reduction of infectious diseases.
In this challenging and changing environment, different solutions have occurred. Also, technology companies are innovating solutions rapidly to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
What are the Solutions in Retail to Maintain the Social Distancing against COVID-19?
In order to provide safe space for customers, the first approach of stores is limiting the number of customers in the store at any given time. Even in some countries, it has issued mandatory social distancing measures for retailers that limits the number of shoppers allowed inside grocery stores at one time.
The aim of this is to reduce the interaction between customers and slow the spread of infection of COVID-19. Stores have different ways to regulate customer numbers in stores.
One approach is counting the number of customers manually. In that approach, there is staff waiting at the entrance and exit in order to check the number of customers. The number of customers changes manually by the personal when somebody enters or exits the store. This solution can not work correctly at some times due to human error. Using a mobile application that shows the number of shoppers that is entered by staff can keep the error minimum. By this counter app, staff can cross-check the data.
The second approach is counting the number of baskets. In that solution shopping cart or basket is given to every customer at the entrance. When the customer left them, baskets are disinfected, and a new customer takes the basket. This approach has problems in many ways. If more than one person comes to shop together with, caring individual basket or shopping cart is not logical for them. And the disinfection process of a shopping cart can be long, and this can cause more waiting times for customers.
Another approach is counting with automated cameras. In this solution, cameras track customers with image processing (computer vision) technology and commit to the system. This solution gives the best result. The number of customers is precisely accurate. Also, these cameras provide customer trends, the most crowded days, even hours.
Also, other precautions to keep track of social distancing is to have staff counting the number of shoppers that enter and exit departments like delicatessen, greengrocery.
In addition to these measures, keeping social distancing is highly important for stores. Some stores use floor markers to create a one-way movement to maintain low traffic and social distancing in stores’ departments.
Although these measures are well-considered, controlling social distancing is not possible without technology. With image processing (computer vision) based cameras in each department, the distance between shoppers can be tracked, and social distancing procedure can be maintained.
Briefly, all solutions considered in order to keep social distancing, the solution with computer vision (image processing) based cameras is the optimal solution. It gives the most precise customer number, best applied social distancing. Besides retail analytics, such as customer number times, dwell time, the conversion rate can be seen.
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