The new high street: navigating tomorrow’s retail landscape with tech


Dan Joyce, general manager EMEA of SafetyCulture, explains how retail can tap into tech to pave a path to reopening

Joyce: retailers have to consider impact of both footfall and hygiene concerns

As the retail sector prepares to reopen after Easter, UK shops are pulling out all the stops to persuade Britons to venture out to their local high streets and favourite stores. People are understandably cautious about returning to public spaces like retail environments, so now is the time for businesses to come out swinging. For many retailers, this involves going on the charm offensive with plenty of promotions. But it also means getting on the front foot of managing health and safety. 

In order to entice reluctant shoppers back into stores, retailers have to be considerate of the impact of both footfall and hygiene concerns. At the same time, with social distancing requirements in place, the demands on workers have increased while headcount inevitably decreased. 

In reopening, retailers will need to re-learn the ropes and do so quickly. This is where technology can help.  At SafetyCulture, we’re working with thousands of organisations around the world to get safely back to business. In doing so, we’ve seen firsthand the effect of cumbersome processes that weigh on pandemic weary employees and prevent businesses from doing their best work.

Having the right technology helps retailers manage new ways of operating, all while protecting staff and encouraging customers to return to physical spaces. 

Tap into tech with SafetyCulture

Get up to speed and get ahead

As the eyes and ears on the ground, staff members are best placed to implement in-store safety practices. Don’t forget, however, that a lot has changed and this might be overwhelming to some employees. Not only have people spent months away from physical shops but they are returning to environments that look very different from the ones they left. This means that many will need to complete training refresher courses to ensure they can safely do their jobs. Businesses should see this as an opportunity; this is an area in which they can make a real difference and support their employees. 

For workplaces that require hands-on training, which includes many retail environments, staff should access as much digital training as possible prior to returning to work. This not only helps the business quickly restore its operations but also reassures staff that their workplace is safe and is taking appropriate steps to protect them. By the time stores reopen, staff should know new guidelines and procedures so they can hit the ground running from day one. 

Digital platforms like EdApp help transform businesses’ training courses into simple, bite-sized learning experiences. By using this technology, staff can access training programmes and learn in an easily digestible, interactive  way. Bitesize learning builds retention by not overwhelming people with long manuals and guidelines. Confident staff lead to better customer experiences — it’s a win-win when everyone is up to speed.

Digitise for frictionless processes

Training will stand businesses in good stead, however multiple lockdowns and COVID-19 strains later, we can expect staff members to be even more weary when shops reopen this spring. Fight process fatigue by making ways of working simple when it comes to COVID-safe protocols. Simple checklists, repeated often, can be the most effective method for keeping on top of evolving compliance measures.

Tech can help ease the mental load. Let digitisation do some of the heavy lifting for retail staff. Moving from paper to digital checks through a mobile-based platform like iAuditor helps make both dealing with safety and team accountability easy. With actionable tasks, staff members have a clear endpoint to complete. Digital checklists help to cut through red tape and effortlessly streamline the whole process from collation to analysis — and to action.

Digitised safety inspection conducted on iAuditor

Use your space to set the scene 

Now that in-person shopping is back on the table, it’s time to make use of an asset that was sorely underutilised in lockdown — your venue. It’s a space to elevate the customer experience with promotional in-store activations, but it can work hard for you on the safety front too. Allow your premises to do some of the heavy lifting so that staff members aren’t the only mouthpiece for compliance. 

Use the space to your advantage, adding physical enhancements that make it easy for patrons to do the right thing. Details like displaying real-time safety checks, signage, sanitiser stations, and easily navigable layouts, allow your venue to become a safety signal. SafetyCulture worked in partnership with Canva to develop free professionally designed safe environment templates to help retailers do just that. Once you’ve set the scene, it frees up staff to focus on elevating the consumer experience in other ways rather than their first interaction with customers being purely instructive.

Turning your venue into a safety signal with clear signage

Build safety into your everyday

As the pandemic advances and information changes, so do people’s confidence and comfort levels. It’s time to stop thinking of safety as simply a box to tick internally. In this new world, there are new rules. 

What may have seemed unnecessary six months ago could be critical to success today. 

As the UK emerges from lockdown, safety is now synonymous with trust. While that was already the assumption pre-pandemic, it is now the first question people ask themselves when deciding to enter a new space. Businesses that are transparent about what safety measures are in place will gain loyalty and increased trust from their customers. Technology paves the way for that process.

Through implementing easy-to-follow procedures with the help of digital tools like ours at SafetyCulture, retailers should be in for a brighter spring and a brighter 2021.

For more on how to reopen safely this spring, view SafetyCulture’s COVID-19 Resource Hub with free digitised COVID-19 guidance from governments and leading industry bodies. Retail businesses can also access SafetyCulture’s free Return to Retail toolkit, including a tailored guide, iAuditor retail templates and links to retail specific training courses on EdApp. 

Bio: Dan Joyce is general manager EMEA at SafetyCulture, a global technology company which supports businesses to do their best work every day. Used by over 28,000 organizations, its flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp enable teams to perform checks, train staff, report issues, capture data and communicate fluidly. Dan led the business into the UK market in 2016 and has spearheaded growth through EMEA as well as partnering with major insurance companies globally. 


About SafetyCulture: 

SafetyCulture is a global technology company which supports businesses to do their best work every day. Its adaptive, mobile-first platform helps to enhance operations and business outputs. Used by over 28,000 organizations, its flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp enable teams to perform checks, train staff, report issues, capture data and communicate fluidly.

As the operational heartbeat of working teams, SafetyCulture powers over 600 million checks per year, approximately 50,000 lessons per day and millions of corrective actions. Its award winning products integrate seamlessly to help organizations build immunity to risk. 

Customers of SafetyCulture Group include the likes of Shell, United Nations, Virgin Active, Cathay Pacific, Mars and BP Chargemaster.

(A Retail Times’ sponsored post)