Focus 01: The Immediate Reality: Cleanliness

Over the coming weeks we will serialise into daily, bite sized snippets all chapters within our FOCUS series of reports that explore THE NEW ROLE OF PHYSICAL RETAIL.


One thing that everyone has learnt throughout this pandemic, is that you can’t predict the ‘future of retail’. But what you can do, is use this opportunity to force a re-think.

Consumers want to feel safe within store environments, for space to be clean and easily kept that way with minimal clutter, hygienic product display and products that do not feel as though they have been handled by multiple people.


As consumers return to stores cleanliness is at the forefront of their minds, but for brands and retailers it is a challenge cleaning what is ‘unseen’. Shoppers will leave their mark wherever they go, and establishing where to focus cleaning resource for both consumer safety and reassurance is a significant task. Shoppers will be thinking ‘what have I touched, and who has touched this before me?’.

Many brands and retailers struggled to keep stores clean and tidy in normal circumstances, but coronavirus has significantly increased the challenge:

  • Being able to clean efficiently includes reducing clutter and nonessential elements on the shop floor.
  • Shoppers opening doors, using lifts, picking up product and using service and payment desks are just some of the actions in store that involve touching surfaces, and could be touched by hundreds of people every day.
  • It is not practical to clean all surfaces every time they have been touched and many surfaces will be missed, but equally conscientious shoppers will make an effort to touch fewer surfaces, in the short term at least.
  • Some sectors will face greater challenges than others; it is accepted in jewellery stores to have product in glass cabinets, whereas fashion retailers face far greater challenges where product is ‘tried on’ and difficult to clean.
  • Some existing self-serve operations in store may also need to move to an assisted model within the short term queues for ‘basket only’ customers.

Despite the challenges faced by brands and retailers, shoppers will expect high standards of cleanliness in store, and won’t go back unless they are reassured that everything within reason is being done to keep stores clean and hygienic.


Although having high standards of cleanliness in store will come at a cost, consumers will go to the stores of brands and retailers that get it right and will avoid those who don’t. However, there are several ways brands and retailers can make their consumers feel safe in store.

  • Ensure in-store cleaning is visible to shoppers, with dedicated cleaning teams rather than store staff periodically wiping down surfaces.
  • Develop slick and efficient cleaning regimes, presenting in store cleaning teams to shoppers in a friendly way to instil comfort and reassurance.
  • Explore new ways that shoppers can view and experience products without direct contact.
  • Explore the principle of ‘promotors’ that demonstrate products for shoppers, limiting the amount of human contact.
  • Explore how to provide ‘fresh/ untouched’ products to shoppers, without excessive packaging.
  • Explore implementing an efficient process to allow ‘touched’ products to be quarantined on rotation to reduce risk.

With our extensive knowledge of store operations and helping brands and retailers implement in store strategy, we are able to support you in creating easy-to follow guidelines for maintaining cleanliness in store that result in winning consumer trust, which is critical as stores open following lockdown.


As consumers start to return to stores, what can you do now to turn challenges into opportunities that maximise the comfort and safety of staff and shoppers and provide an experience in store that will keep consumers coming back.

Get in touch if you would like to arrange a virtual workshop with our founding Directors Adrian & Jenny to see how we can help you work through your opportunities, or download the full document HERE



30th June 2020