Beth Thompson

Brother 2 Brother’s return to the high street: one week in

Lockdown has certainly ruffled a few feathers in the retail world, however, at Visualsoft, we’ve been incredibly proud to watch our clients re-strategise and not only succeed but soar, throughout an uncertain time period.

On Monday 15th, like many of our clients, Brother 2 Brother re-opened the doors of their high street store in Reading for the first time since the enforcement of lockdown, back in March. From Thursday 18th, Brother 2 Brother made it possible for customers to book individual slots via their website, made possible by our In-store Appointments feature.

Steven Hall, Head of eCommerce at Brother 2 Brother, “could not wait” to open their doors to welcome loyal customers and new faces into their store.

In preparation for the big day, staff were busy deep-cleaning and rearranging processes to facilitate safe movement for customers and staff alike throughout the store. Brother 2 Brother also made PPE available for staff to wear, to keep both staff and customers safe. There will be a limit of 6 customers allowed in store at once, in order to ensure that social distancing is maintained at all times.

While this may be a different experience than a customer could ever have expected prior to the pandemic, with consumers clamouring to return to ‘normal’ (or as normal as we can currently get), we’re certain that these measures will be hugely appreciated and respected by all customers who are craving the in-store shopping experience after three long months.

Throughout lockdown, consumers have become accustomed to queueing to get into supermarkets to purchase their weekly essentials shop, and will likely be anticipating this ‘new normal’ to follow suit on the return of the high street.

However, to reduce how frequently his customers will have to queue out in the cold, Steve has introduced ‘personal shopping in-store appointments’ through integrating Visualsoft’s In-Store Appointments feature to his website.

"If we don't try to innovate and make sure business can operate at some sort of level we probably wouldn't be here for very long," said Steve.

“As far as returning to ‘normal’, we haven’t as of yet. Our store environments have completely changed with limitations on the number of customers allowed in store and the trying on of our goods. I feel it is going to have a long term impact on our bricks and mortar operations, especially at the busier times of year like Christmas and Black Friday, where we will see a continued move towards e-commerce sales.”

Steve continued: “Consumers will not want to wait in queues outside of stores, especially in adverse weather and they will be unlikely to want to shop in close proximity to other consumers during the busy periods. I feel that this will drive more consumers towards purchasing online, as long as we can continue to provide a good service we should benefit from this in the long run.”

“The In-Store Appointments feature has been an addition to our website and we’re hoping that we can develop this feature further with Visualsoft in order to offer a more flexible and bespoke service to our consumers. It will be invaluable in driving high conversion footfall to our bricks and mortar stores during this difficult period of trade.”

The In-store Appointments feature will allow customers to select a time slot they would like to book to visit the store, meaning no waiting in queues, and the provision of a real ‘VIP treatment’. Brother 2 Brother are making 30-minute slots available, whereby staff will prepare a selection of curated items based on their preferences for the customer to browse through at their leisure.

Staff will also be “cleaning counters after every purchase and cleaning the changing rooms after use”. Brother 2 Brother also plans to quarantine the goods for at least 24 hours, before they are put back into circulation on the shop floor. In addition, customers will be encouraged to try items on in the comfort of their own home, and return them where possible.

We would love to hear your thoughts on returning to ‘normal’, and the future of eCommerce in a post-COVID world.

Please let us know via the form below if you are interested in sharing your story.

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