As economies around the world continue to come to terms with the uncertainty around COVID-19, certain things are clear. Some sectors of the economy are disproportionately affected than others. These include restaurants, coffee shops, gymnasiums, retail stores, and entertainment centers, among others. As establishments slowly reopen after the lockdown, communication is crucial, and that’s where digital signages can play an important role.
Retail stores and restaurants are not monolithic entities in terms of economic activity. They vary in size, the number of customers they serve, and the staff they employ. That reinforces the need for customized communication, as per the COVID-19 lockdown relaxation norms stipulated by the concerned authorities. There are several reasons why digital signages are the right medium for retail establishments and restaurants to communicate with their customers and employees during these tumultuous times.
As establishments reopen, they are required to operate with strict guidelines on social distancing as per government orders. Digital signages can convey the safety protocols that are in force, and what customers are expected to do. A digital signage outside a restaurant, for example, could tell patrons about the number of people they can serve, the number of diners who are already there, and the waiting period. This will make it easy for customers to plan accordingly. Restaurants will also be to inform customers about the safety measures they have undertaken while preparing food.
As retail stores will be expected to handle a higher number of customers, the role of digital signages is of even more significance. A supermarket will be able to inform customers about the need for social distancing, the advantages of wearing masks, and sanitizing procedures.
Unlike traditional billboards, digital signages are dynamic. So, retail stores, restaurants, and coffee shops can now communicate through both informative visuals and text messages. Other than being demonstrative, this will reinforce the message and make it less pedantic.
Establishments can now communicate the distance that customers have to maintain between themselves, the kind of products they are not allowed to touch and return to the shelves, and the benefits of cashless payments, all through images and videos. Such dynamic messaging will increase comprehension, and thereby, adherence.
A major advantage of digital signages is that they are flexible. If a restaurant wants to change its message depending on the time of the day, it’s possible now. If they have to inform customers that their seating capacity is full, it can be done in a jiffy. This greatly reduces the need for human interaction and thereby decreases the chances of contagion.
For retail stores and supermarkets, this allows them to communicate the exact location of products. That would make it easier for customers to find them, instead of having to roam around, increasing the chances of close interactions.
An area where digital signages can play a critical role is automation. When establishments convey that the preferred mode is cashless payment, it becomes easy for customers to adopt them. When they are told the precise location of a product, the procedure to bag them, and pay, customers will be more likely to do it on their own. This will increase the confidence of the customers, and the overall speed of shopping.
Digital signages have always been an excellent tool to convey in-store offers and discounts. This would compel customers to make purchasing decisions they hadn’t previously thought of. When customers buy more in a single visit, they are less likely to make multiple visits to the store. This would reduce crowding, and increase social distancing in retail stores.
During COVID-19, it’s important to bear in mind that employees are at a greater risk of infections. When most of the information is communicated through digital signages, customers are less likely to physically approach employees and ask for clarifications. Also, as more and more people opt for digital payments and card transactions, employees don’t have to intervene, and can maintain a safe distance.
Through signages, stores can also remind their workers about the need for hygiene measures during COVID-19. All these will substantially increase employee safety and reduce any liability that might ensue from workers getting infected at the stores.
Admittedly, these are not the best of times for those in the restaurant or retail industries. But with the adoption of technologies like digital signages, these establishments can make it easier and safer for not just their customers, but also their employees.
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