The new normal for leisure and retail businesses will be anything but ordinary post Covid-19.

As the UK continues to combat the coronavirus, the timeline for reopening for leisure and retail businesses remains unclear. But one thing is for sure; that dramatic changes to the way in which these businesses operate and customers consume their products and services will change – from mass temperature checks and compulsory hand sanitisation to the removal of re-usable menus. We’ve compiled a list of changes we see happening within the industry and evaluate the products on offer that will help facilitate these changes.

Sanitisation and social responsibility
One solution that we see becoming popular within public settings and businesses within the sectors above is Hand Sanitiser Display Kiosks. This particular solution helps businesses protect their staff and customers by enforcing hand sanitisation as a social responsibility, making hand sanitisation more accessible and giving the ability to communicate its benefits in a clear an effective manner. The solution also enables touch free usage via built in IR sensors.

Controlled entry and reduced capacity
Another change to how leisure and retail businesses operate will be in regards to the amount of people allowed in their facility at any one time, with reports suggesting venue capacities will be reduced significantly and visits to retail destinations will have controlled entry points to ensure footfall traffic is at a safe level to ensure social distancing measures are maintained.

In order to facilitate these new requirements for business, there are various technology systems we recommend.

Thermal Imaging Camera’s
Airports have been using thermal camera technology since the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003 and have continued to do so today as standard. The thermal imaging camera systems are a more useful as early warning systems and preferable to checking each person individually with a handheld device.

The devices are just like regular cameras, except that instead of recording like a normal video camera these cameras track heat. They can even work in the dark. Recordings from these cameras show up on video screens with hotter objects looking brighter. The systems are very sensitive, measuring temperatures down to a fraction of a degree Fahrenheit.

The system simply needs 1 person watching the monitor and any person showing hotter than the norm can be identified easily and quickly for further examination. These systems are great for blending in as the flow of people is un-interrupted and therefore there is minimal impact on movement and ease of access.

Footfall Monitoring
Footfall counters are another great way for leisure and retail businesses to monitor the number of people who enter their facility. There are various technologies available to do this from simplistic ‘beam break’ technology to Time of Flight and stereo camera technology. However, although there are different devices that can be used, the most important aspect is to have someone managing these systems to ensure footfall is maintained at a safe level.

Online Venue Booking Systems
Venue booking systems are not new by any means, they are usually a web-based application where customers can add, and book events based on their location, availability and area. Businesses that do not already have these systems in place may choose to start controlling numbers of guests at their venues through booking systems as they make it simple to track capacity and plan for future events. Now imagine having to book a time slot to go shopping at Top Shop!

Ordering on Apps and non-touch menus
With a particular focus on food and beverage businesses we envisage Ordering Apps to become more and more popular. One famous UK business, Wetherspoons, has been successfully letting their customers order food and drink from via an app from the comfort of their seat for years. This not only improves customer experience for some people but it’s a perfect solution for reducing contact with other people by minimising queuing and interaction with waiting staff.

Another issue we see technology solving within the food and beverage sector is the one of re-usable menus. May reports suggest that restaurants will ditch re-usable menus due to concerns around hygiene and the passing of bacteria. One solution to this issue could be the use of a Motion Sensor Digital Displays this would allow businesses to display their menus on a digital screen and allow customers to browse via using hand motion as opposed to touching a surface therefore reducing the chance of bacteria being left on surfaces and spreading.

Augmented reality changing rooms and virtual products
Augmented reality could be a huge asset for retailers moving forward. As we know, augmented reality uses the world around the customer and allows them to place products in their home or even on their bodies. This technology allows users to play with merchants' products and see how they would look and fit in a room or on themselves.

Augmented Reality Changing Rooms
Customers trying on clothes at a retail store is almost certainly going to change with the risk of spreading bacteria through clothing. Augmented reality changing rooms will enable customers to still try on items they like the look of without the risk of spreading or encountering bacteria from another person. Topshop recently trialled this technology in their Moscow store. With customers standing in front of a camera, able to see how clothing items would look on their bodies without having to physically try anything on.

Another way in which retailers can prevent customers spreading bacteria or coming into contact with other people’s bacteria would be through enabling customers to virtually try on 3D products. A few different retailers have tried using augmented reality to achieve this. For example, Lacoste used an AR app to allow customers to virtually try on shoes.

In conclusion, the way in which we shop and enjoy leisure time is going to change drastically over the coming months and businesses within the leisure and retail sectors are going to have to adapt quickly to respond. As a company, we believe those businesses that embrace technology to help service changes in customer needs will ultimately win in the long run.