UK Retail to Reopen With Cutting-Edge Apps, Connected Mirrors + Quarantined Shoes

British prime minister Boris Johnson said Monday that nonessential businesses could reopen on June 15 — a move that was welcomed by retailers.

Market analyst GlobalData calculated that the lockdown has cost British retailers over $17.8 billion in sales. Topshop owner Arcadia, is reportedly considering the permanent closure of 100 stores and fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse and department store Debenhams have all recently declared bankruptcy.

FN spoke to representatives from popular British retailer Kurt Geiger and luxury purveyor Browns Fashion to discover the different ways the businesses are preparing for post-pandemic shopping challenges.

Browns Fashion

Exact opening dates for Browns South Molton Street and Browns East are yet to be confirmed as the luxury retailer reviews government advice and ensures all requirements are met to keep employees and customers safe.

App for That: Browns has been further developing its recently-released shopping app during the confinement period and when the stores reopen, additional capabilities will be rolled out. These include a remote interaction facility between stores and customers who will be able to pre-select pieces to view via appointment. The app will also feature a new in-store discovery mode linked to connected mirrors, which will suggest pieces specifically tailored to each client.
Social distancing: Traffic will be controlled via a single entry and exit system.
Appointment facility: Private shopping suites will be available for bookings at both stores.
Personal protective equipment: Measures being considered include the provision of face masks and gloves for employees and sanitizer stations positioned throughout.
Fitting rooms: Thorough cleanings will occur after each client uses the fitting room, with additional hygiene measures implemented within the fine jewelry departments.

Lee Whittle, store experience director: “We are also exploring new functions, including the additional option of booking all fitting rooms in the store, as opposed to just the VIC (very important client) rooms. Bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds is something Browns has been doing for a while, but this has now become even more important as we look at new ways to interact with our clients.”

Browns East
Browns East
CREDIT: Browns

Kurt Geiger

The company’s 55 boutiques will reopen on a phased basis starting June 15 — in line with government protocol and at an additional annual cost of $92,000 per store.

Social distancing: All will have a maximum capacity, allowing one customer per 162 square feet, with social distancing set at twice the government recommendation.
Personal protective equipment: Employees will wear protective gloves and face masks, while perspex screens are being installed at all cash desks.
Cleaning protocol: Antibacterial hand gels will be provided and anti-viral cleaning solutions employed throughout the day with particular attention to frequently used devices such as chip and pin readers. Only credit cards will be accepted, with contactless payments strongly encouraged.
Trying on: Disposable pop-socks will be provided for trying on footwear. All shoes that have been tried and all returned styles will be quarantined for 24 hours.

CEO Neil Clifford: “While we are obviously very keen to reopen our stores and return to serving our customers across the country, the health and safety of our teams and customers is our number one priority. As such, we will implement new health and safety procedures in all reopened stores which adhere to government guidelines and still allow for an enjoyable shopping experience.”

Neil Clifford, Kurt Geiger
Neil Clifford, CEO, Kurt Geiger.
CREDIT: Kurt Geiger
Kurt Geiger social distancing floor sticker
A social distancing floor sticker at Kurt Geiger.
CREDIT: Kurt Geiger


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