In recent days, a growing number of retailers have made the wearing of masks compulsory for their shoppers. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks and many others made some declaration in one way.
Very apart from political views, it is easy to see why it makes good business sense for consumers to wear masks.
The decisions of retailers are always based on two simple facts: 1) Satisfied Employees and Customers 2 ) Financial returns.
The only thing about COVID-19 is that the complexities of keeping workers and customers satisfied have changed. Before the pandemic, things such as fast checks, helpful service staff, competitive salaries and social responsibility were meant. But the equation now includes a third wrinkle — safety.
There are no long-term financial returns under current conditions without a security top priority. The less safe people are shopping, the fewer customers are in the stores and the less likely the retailers are to get away from the hole in the store. And, note, it isn’t as if physical retailers haven’t already been harmed in the world before the pandemic started.
Safety was never a big concern for retailers, with what it entails. Sure, it was there, but it was never addressed every day before the pandemic began. As long as retailers can keep their employees and their customer’s safe environments, things are good. So long so bollards were in front of the stores to stop the cars smashing through the gates, video cams were in the right spot to detect unhealthy characters, and parking areas had been illuminated to allow safe passage to cars at night, the stuff was pretty darn copacetic.
Safety must now be the highest priority of any retailer. In a way, safety now overrides everyone.
All this should be positively wonderful news for a retail sector that is struggling to develop its collective identity of the 21st century. The convergence of three dimensions – health, a better experience for the consumer, employees and financial performance – is the biggest groundbreaking time in retail history and will continue to take place. Ideas kept back by “we can’t threaten to make sure consumers and/or employees won’t” (my quotations) are now going to get a second look, as the script has been changed by safety.
If the industry as a whole joins hands and advises us to wear masks, sure, people would be protected from COVID-19, but it also means, more significantly, that consumers are more likely to consent to new shopping choices than retailers would ever have dared before. This ensures that the retail market has a passageway to innovate and to free itself from Amazon’s shackling and e-commerce clutches.
Many in the industry already take this opportunity and change their business models more quickly than they would otherwise have. For eg, Walmart only a few weeks ago opened a new self-check-out store, Fairway introduced a new scan and go mobile shopping app in March, Starbucks announced plans for more shops just for pick-ups, Best Buy was only going to appointment-only shopping for some time and the list of creative products put into action by many across the industry is gradually becoming increasingly noticeable every day.
All of that means that thoughts previously left in the cutting room, including robots on the aisles to test inventory and cameras on the ceilings, can finally see the daylight and be given the ability to show a financial gain on what were most likely previous objections by old white managers from HiPPO who had before 2 had previously been in charge of retail.
America wants its distributors. Physical stores mean employment, they mean consumption and in a way that is constrained by terms, they often mean everything.
Masks as far as protection is concerned to symbolize even more development and the long-term sustainability that America so recognizes and so loves of the industry and its products.