Store Display & Design In The New Normal
Whether it is the functioning of the business or the methods of reaching out to consumers and suppliers or handling our employees, the last year has given us a lesson in adaptation. Something that, maybe, none of us was ever taught in business school
Whether it’s for the safety of our staff, our patients or even from an aesthetic point of view to ensure that our customer still feels at home while shopping, there have been changes in-store display, design and functioning. Here are a few opinions of opticians on what they’ve had to do differently, during the Covid phase.
Mittal Optics: Nilesh Mittal, Aurangabad
Overall their number of sales have been affected but the value of the sales are not really affected. We were expecting the luxury market and high-value items sale to be affected, but surprisingly this is not the case. Customers are not compromising on their health or aesthetics.
All our staff is trained on all the safety protocols. Each eyewear when touched by customers is cleansed and sterilised. All the optometry equipment is sanitised also.
For the customers, we have kept the chairs for sitting at a safe distance to avoid crowding at the counters. Customers tend to call and fix an appointment before visiting. Customers are switching more to online payments and are avoiding cash transactions.
Ms Pallavi Chaudhari, In-charge of Retail Operations, Eye Care Opticals, Jalgaon
We focused on limiting occupancy and giving focus to our customers on one‑on‑one, personalized service at the store by seeking prior appointments. Face coverings are required for all of our staff members and customers. Temperature checks are conducted at the door. We conduct enhanced deep cleanings & sterilisation for all surfaces, touchpoints, equipment, display products, and frequently used areas after every 20 minutes or after every use. The main door is equipped with a foot-operated sanitiser dispenser and a footwear disinfectant.
We can proudly say that we have serviced more than 5000 customers post-Covid in the last 9 months ensuring their complete satisfaction & safety.
Bhavesh Shah, Perfect Optics, Surat & Mumbai
Perfect Optics has been designed more like a display store with minimalistic counters. So we have less contact probability within the store. We have been using social media and whatsapp for customer appointments to limit the maximum number of 7 customers at the same time.
After every use/trial, each glass or product is sanitised and sterilised under a UV Steriliser. The number of sales has increased post-Covid but there is a drop in the value of the sales. Many sunglasses buyers are restricted to only buying eyeglasses and vision essentials.
Amman Kumar, Partner - R Kumar Opticians, Ahmedabad
The first challenge is to maintain social distancing on the shop floor, especially during peak hours. We still maintain the counters that physically distance the client and the sales-person. We put floor stickers to designate specific areas on the counter to attend to each client distanced 6 feet apart to comply with the norm. Each area was converted into a station with a mirror, sanitiser and all the paraphernalia required to sanitise the area after every client. We had certain corners in the shop with larger mirrors. After shortlisting the eyewear, the sales-person would escort the client to these areas to check out the eyewear without the mask. The sales-person would also take images of the client which he/she could share with the family for an opinion. We have UVC cabinets imported from Italy to sanitise the eyewear tried by clients. We also have ultra-sound cleaners with antimicrobial solutions at the counter.
The entrance of each shop has a station to check body temperature using a non-touch thermometer and sanitiser dispenser. The temperature for each client is recorded and stored in a database as well.
Salespeople were briefed to encourage the clients to sanitise frequently during their selection. All eyewear touched by clients is sanitised in UVC chambers before restocking. Optometrists use iPad aided measuring devices such as the Eye-Ruler and Opti-cam instead of PD-meter. The entire refraction set-up including the chair-unit is thoroughly wiped with sanitiser after every refraction. Clients were encouraged to pay digitally rather than in cash as much as possible. We also discouraged physical invoices as much as possible, emailing and Whatsapping as much of the paperwork as possible.
We did not allow as many customers in the shop at the same time. Since we had 5-6 dedicated areas on the counter to attend to clients, additional clients were queued outside. Social distancing was maintained in the queue with floor stickers and a dedicated staff person regulating the entry into the shop.
Premium clients asked for time slots when there is less inflow of customers. Some clients opted to visit before official hours to avoid coming in contact with other clients. A lot of clients preferred to shortlist on WhatsApp. They would call in for the shortlisted frames to their home/office for final selection.
There was a shift in the selection criteria with the greater value being placed on the spectacle lenses and the frame selection being more functional than dressy. There is more acceptance to purchasing a second pair of spectacles now.
Chetan Dedhia (Owner) and Priyanka Dedhia (B.Optom, Owner), Classic Vision, Mumbai.
There have been a lot of changes post-Covid. We have now ensured temperature checks, masks, gloves and Arogya Setu as a compulsion at all our stores. Sanitisers are installed everywhere. All the surfaces and equipment are sanitized post-human touch.
We have a special heavy-duty Corona Oven which can sanitise up to 200 frames in one go as well as the parcels of lenses received. The staff members have to change all outerwear on an entry in the store and the entire store is fogged and sanitised every morning.
All patients entering for any Special Clinical Services are permitted only by appointment. Our entire eye care facility provides contactless testing with our Integrated Zeiss System. We have two clinics which help us to use one while the other is being sanitised so the waiting period is reduced.
Sanjay Tekchandani, Owner, Vision 2020, Mumbai
THE Covid 19 Pandemic has been like a RESET for the whole world. We have had to decongest our stores to have minimum touchpoints for all. The counter-top was cleared of all paraphernalia, including mirrors. Instructions were put outside and inside our Centre, detailing the protocols. No Mask, No entry. Maximum 4 persons were allowed inside our store, but only after a temperature check, and hand sanitization.
We have a contactless eye testing facility.. We’ve had to change our product portfolio also. Luxury eyewear had to be shifted from the display, and low and mid-end frames had to be given prominence, as customers were very conservative in their buying pattern.
Payments were made to us CONTACTLESS via NEFT, Credit Cards, Google Pay, Paytm etc. Many patients who did not want to venture out of their safe zones, used to order their requirements on the phone, and we used to get the products delivered to them at their doorstep.
What do Store Designers have to say?
Presenta Nova: Mladen Pintur, Founder and CEO
Pandemic put new standards in the industry and opticians today realize the importance of a store design, so many also used this precious time to remodel.
The industry is seeing the entire situation as a potential to think of store design of the future. Modularity is very important when talking about displays. Every display should be easy to change, move from store to store, easy to upgrade and finally install.
Store design in 2021 will stay pretty much the same as it depends on the subjective taste in the end, but minimalist interiors could be more wanted. In order to achieve a clean and safe clinic or hospital look. Emphasis should be on the ability to change or update your displays with ease and of course easy maintenance and fast installation.
5 years ago we used virtual reality in our shop planning. Opticians were able to see their stores change in front of them with a help of 3D glasses. This brought the whole design and sales process to a new level. Augmented reality is the next logical step. Our 100% in-house production and design, gave us independence and the ability to react promptly to their needs. Those with outsourced production maybe didn't have this privilege. 2021 will be crucial for our businesses.
The Monarch Enterprises - Mr Murtaza Tinwala (Founder / CEO)
The business has been affected by Covid 19 and the corresponding lockdown in March 2020. In fact, what we noticed through our experience is that the Industry has picked up the business post in June 2020. Most store owners followed their regional regulatory safety protocols like wearing face masks, using sanitisers when dealing with Customers. Also, many stores invested in UV Sterilisers for their stores to sterilise their products after customer usage.
Post the lockdown easing out, the store owners are back in business and are looking for more in-trend design, which is more exclusive and functional. The global industry is opening up too in a big way to contactless units in displays. Technology plays a crucial part here. Artificial Intelligence & Augmented Reality will be game-changer concepts here increasing technical expertise.