Whether or not your state or city has imposed restrictions on retail opening during the pandemic, there is much hesitation on the part of the consumer to return to in-store shopping. With so much unknown surrounding the spread of COVID-19, many shoppers are forgoing store visits out of fear of infection due to germs on surfaces.
The question becomes: what can retailers do to ease customers’ worry and reassure them that everything is being done to create a safe environment, not only for shoppers but for the sales associates, managers and all staff members? It must be communicated that everything possible is being done to ensure a safe environment, allow for worry-free shopping and create a sense of security that allows shoppers to once again focus on finding just the right boots for winter.
There are many solutions in place that are being implemented, from temperature checking and mask mandates to limited capacity and curbside pick-up. Those stores in large, indoor locations, such as malls or airports, need to take disinfection one step further. Where and how you disinfect are the keys to welcoming back customers safely, and when done right, it is the ultimate form of customer care you can provide.
New to the United States are the Viral Defense walk-through misting units that can help mitigate the spread of germs from person to person. These full disinfection systems provide a fine mist of an anti-viral/anti-bacterial solution to destroy or inactivate germs on people, their belongings and surfaces. Depending on the application, the protective coating from the mist provides germ-fighting benefits in approximately 15 seconds and provides protection for up to 24 hours. The same misting technology utilized in the walk-through booths can also be used throughout stores and, most importantly, dressing rooms, to create an environment that can support the good health of your customer and reinforce feelings of being in a safe environment.
Industry leaders recognize the need for disinfection, according to “The Surprising Spending: Retail & Hospitality COVID-19 Impact Survey,” a recent survey conducted by Multimedia Plus among executives in the hospitality and retail industries. Nearly 90% of respondents cited increased spending for daily cleaning as one of the biggest changes they will implement as a result of the current pandemic. Viral Defense disinfection systems are expected to provide significant cost savings in commercial cleaning.
The world is at a critical point in the fight against germs such as SARS-CoV-2, and our goal needs to be focused on providing a cleaner, less germ-ridden environment that minimizes the fear of entering various venues. A spray mist is the most effective way to surround the largest number of exposed surfaces including skin, clothing, shoes, accessories and surfaces in general. For example, thousands of full disinfection fine-mist systems are in use in Vietnam, a country of 100 million people, with less than 1,100 cases of COVID-19 and 35 fatalities. Similar concepts are being used in India, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Germany, Israel and other countries.
Disinfecting units, such as those from Viral Defense, have several applications, one of which is a line of walk-through chambers that uses several types of solutions, including highly diluted colloidal silver, HOCl or others that are dispersed in a fine mist. The walk-through systems automatically detect a person’s presence, applies the mist and leaves no residual wetness.
Viral Defense also offers portable disinfecting units that destroy or inactivate viruses and bacteria on surfaces, including whole rooms. All solutions used in Viral Defense disinfection systems have been shown to be effective anti-viral and bacteria-killing remedies against Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Listeria, Escherichia coli, Shigella flexneri and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Experts also agree on this type of disinfection, such as Dr. Nguyen Viet Nhung, director of the National Lung Hospital in Hanoi.
“Misting booths and walkways are highly beneficial where there are high concentrations of people moving in and out of areas such as airports, schools, factories, meatpacking plants, retail stores, sports and concert venues, mass transit and other high-traffic areas,” Nhung said. “They are most useful in situations where people should not bring germs into their environment.”
The retail industry, much like the hospitality industry, has always been focused on customer services. Strides in communicating the importance of more vigilant hygiene practices, frequent hand washing, hand sanitization and updated sick policies are a start. To truly keep store associates and guests safe, both in mind and body, more efforts need to be implemented. For those who have embraced the highest levels of customer services, this is indeed the new normal.
Nick Jaksa is the founder of Integrated Operations (integratedoperationsllc.com) with the Viral Defense brand, which is focused on improving safety through the mitigation of the spread of germs in an effort to attack the pandemic head on. He brings over 40 years of product development and manufacturing expertise in various markets around the world, including extensive experience in safety-related products in the automotive industry and others.