Custom furniture startup WoodenStreet is planning to spend US$ 500K to change how its experience stores will feel and function post-coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes a touch-free store policy, virtual reality and 3D services and sanitized supply chain.
The brand has been mapping out a re-entry strategy, given that new cases of COVID-19 seem to be flattening out in several districts across the country.
Centred on making furniture shopping a safe experience for customers, the strategy involves everything from daily store-wide sanitization and social distancing policies to virtual contact-less services on the website. The company will also make use of its VR module, launched in the previous quarter, which allows virtual reality walkthroughs of a customer’s home – furnished with WoodenStreet furniture and décor accessories – directly from their smartphone.
“Given how COVID-19 has virtually changed everyone’s behaviour and lifestyle”, comments Lokendra Ranawat, CEO, WoodenStreet, “we want to assure customers of their safety and of our employees so that they feel confident in shopping.”
As every other business within India, WoodenStreet shut-down its stores on March 22 after the Prime Minister had appealed to the nation for a 21-day lockdown. Now that reports of a slowdown in infection rates emerge, the company plans to open some of its 25+ experience stores across green zones and relatively healthy areas.
In order to reassure customers of their safety within the stores, the company has prepared a detailed plan.
Touch-Free Experience Stores -The plan for the store includes:
– Customers are advised to take appointment before visiting; this will help staff to entertain no more than two families within the store while maintaining social distancing
– Multiple store-wide sanitization daily along with daily temperature screenings of the staff and regular medical examinations
– A strict touch-free policy within the store; a store executive will explain the products and their functionality while maintaining distance.
– Implementation of virtual store tools and VR module to reduce person-to-person interaction; customers can experience a virtual store walkthroughs or products from within their homes
– Implementation of touch-free transaction modes
– Restrictions on entry without masks; purchasable for customers who arrive without one
Supply-Chain – The company has also planned similar measures to tackle supply-chain, from production to delivery of the products. Artisans, QC and delivery teams will be trained on the new sanitization standards:
– Daily sanitization and disinfection of manufacturing facilities, warehouses and delivery vehicles
– Mandatory temperature screenings and health check-ups
– Manufacturing and delivery staff will be provided with sanitization facilities and will follow social distancing norms
– Every product will be disinfected and fumigated before packaging
– Post-packaging, the deliverables will be sanitized once again before dispatch
– Only 2 masked delivery personnel to be allowed per delivery
– Delivery personnel will ensure touch-free delivery & installation, and will clean up residual packaging before leaving
“COVID-19 presents a new avenue of change, where the new social norms cannot be taken lightly. Masks and social distancing are here to stay for the long run, and we are ready to embrace these norms”, said Ranawat.
For future, the company also has plans to resume its offices with a reduced capacity of 25-30 percent, allowing essential staff with social distancing and sanitization norms while others continue practicing work-from-home.