Shoppers today don’t want to touch anything (except their mobile phones). People think danger lurks everywhere—from the gas pump to the ATM machine to the crosswalk buttons—and, in response, retailers are racing to introduce their own versions of “no touch” retail.
Domino’s Pizza has launched “Contactless Delivery” in many cities around the world, with no direct contact between customers and drivers. Domino’s “Delivery Experts” places the pizza(s) on “a clean and safe surface” specified by the customer. The delivery expert then steps away and contacts the customer to let him/her know it has arrived.
Electronics retailer Best Buy in the United States has gone 100 percent curbside, with only employees allowed in their stores.
The natural next step is to take humans out of the equation entirely—robot retail. China is leading the way, with JD.com and Alibaba-owned Ele.me dispatching robots into quarantined areas during the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus. Even before the threat of COVID-19, robots and automation were finding their ways into many aspects of Chinese life such as hotels run almost completely by robots.
Is “no-touch retail” something that can be applied to floral? Will these trends persist even when the threats of the coronavirus have dissipated? Right now, it looks like they will, and in the meantime, in the middle of this pandemic, “zero is hero.”
Here are some things you can do now.
Many florists are already hoping on this bandwagon (which should have been done many years ago), and it is good to see this trend progressing rapidly. Does your website offer an option for curbside pickup? If not, call your website vendor.
More and more florists are realizing the benefits of having a 24-hour kiosk outside the store or even built into the window. Why do we limit flower buyers to banker hours? People want to shop when they want to shop, not when a flower shop wants to be open.
The flower business drove this trend decades ago, which is the original “no contact” sales method. It takes 10 minutes to get a FedEx account set up. What are you waiting for to ship flowers or speciality items nationwide?
Robots are now running hotels and restaurants in many parts of the world. It is only a matter of time before they start entering into retail everywhere. They can do a lot more than you think. Five years from now, 80 percent of all flower arrangements will be created and assembled by robots. It won’t be long before they run the whole store.