22 May 2020

Preparing shoppers for a new a normality post COVID-19

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It’s been challenging few weeks for retailers, with the majority forced to either close or completely rethink their operations. As the COVID-19 infection rate begins to flatten out across Europe, governments will start to incrementally lift lockdown measures. However, it is highly unlikely that life will return to the normality as we all knew before current restrictions came into effect. 


‘Essential retailers have had to adapt to new ways of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The return to a new type of “business as usual” is likely to be a slow, phased process. As government directives are gradually relaxed, essential and non-essential retailers will require the flexibility to quickly adapt, implement and communicate ongoing safety measures,' says Javier Lopez, general manager, Vertical Solutions, OKI Europe.


Following the economic disruption posed by the pandemic, governments and businesses will be keen to get back to business as usual. Yet retailers should expect specific government-issued guidelines that they must adhere to help avoid a further surge in COVID-19 cases spreading and potentially leading to a second lockdown. A phased approach of this kind could include staff and customers wearing face masks, as well as managing footfall and adhering to social distancing measures inside stores. 


Addressing a completely new set of challenges 


OKI Europe’s whitepaper on – The benefits of in-store signage in a crisis – highlights how in-store visual communications are critical to helping retailers adhere to changing government regulations. For example, the retailers that have been forced to keep their premises closed during lockdown will be keen to open the doors and allow customers to shop as soon as possible. However, they will need to ensure their store complies with all government directives associated with protecting the well-being of staff and customers and stopping further spread of the virus. This includes floor stickers for social distancing, window stickers communicating changes in store opening times, hanging and free-standing banners to help shoppers navigate stores quickly and safely and shelf signage to highlight restrictions on purchases and stock availability.


Essential retailers such as grocers, supermarkets and pharmacies that have been allowed to remain open have already confronted the challenge of putting clear in-store communications in place. Yet they will face the fresh challenge, alongside non-essential retailers, of adapting to continuously changing guidelines and measures as they are announced and ensuring any changes are reflected and communicated as quickly as possible in each store. 


Improving agility with in-store printing


When it comes to changing signage in-store frequently, retailers typically lack speed and agility. Often, they are limited by the availability of in-store resources, relying heavily on the services of third party print suppliers or teams located at head office and waiting for urgent signage to be delivered resulting in long lead times and the inability to change signage on the fly – a requirement during these testing times.

For retailers, these weeks and months are critical. Time is money. Forward-thinking retailers are taking steps to prepare for re-opening by enabling the printing of urgent signage in a store. Compact printers that are designed specifically for in-store use can handle an impressive variety of media, formats, and finishes, in high definition color and the professional quality you would expect from a print supplier. Designed to take up a minimal footprint in retail store back offices, retail-ready printers, such as OKI’s C800 Series A3 color printers, make it quick and easy for store staff to print in-store signage on a range of different media for use on

the shop floor.  


Recognizing that it can be challenging for businesses to create and implement vital social distancing signage quickly, OKI Europe is offering organizations free* media and artwork to create self-adhesive floor stickers that can be printed quickly and easily. This will enable businesses operating now and those re-opening after enforced closures to become operational as quickly as possible while protecting the wellbeing of staff, customers and visitors.


Keeping staff and customers safe post lockdown


As we come out of this crisis, flexibility will be key. Retailers will need to change and update signage quickly as guidance develops and restrictions change. From communicating changing opening hours in shop windows to ensuring customers queue safely at store entrances and checkouts within social distancing guidelines as well as navigating shoppers around the store, retailers need to be able to access, print and change signage as quickly as possible. 


Ongoing supply issues could also mean limited availability of stock. In this scenario, shelf labels highlighting purchasing limits and stock availability can be helpful to inform customers about the same. Eye-catching graphics can be used to direct customers’ attention towards alternative products. Retailers need to choose a device that can handle all these requirements including shelf edge labels, product tags, waterproof yet easily removable floor stickers, hanging banners, free-standing banners and even window stickers. 

With the help of the OKI printers, retailers can ensure they are operational quickly and safely while having the ability to adapt as government guidelines evolve during the gradual journey back to a new form of normality.


Download the OKI whitepaper here

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