Gap Inc., Kohl’s and Suitsupply are getting ready to reopen a slew of stores across the country in the coming days and weeks, and are implementing new health and safety measures for employees and customers.
The retailers are also revamping the shopping experience through in-store innovations and hybrid online-store selling and pick-up.
As Gap Inc. prepares to reopen up to 800 of its Old Navy, Athleta, Gap, Banana Republic, Janie and Jack, and Intermix stores this month, starting with a small selection of locations in Texas this weekend, the company shared how its plans to do so in a safer and different environment.
The company said its top priority remains the health and safety of employees, customers and communities, and that it’s actively working with local government, led by health official guidelines, and in partnership with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and industry peers, to open stores when and where it is safe. Gap said its approach to reopening balances “the fact that taking care takes time, with the urgent need to restore the economy and provide the opportunity for our teams to come back to work.”
“In working with industry partners and public officials to define safe shopping practices, we’re eager to begin welcoming our teams and customers back to our stores, and confident in our ability to safely scale North America openings over the coming months in line with local guidelines,” Sonia Syngal, CEO of Gap Inc., said.
Syngal said the company is leveraging its stores as distribution hubs, leaning into the acceleration of its online business and playing forward the learnings from its business in Asia, where all locations are now open.
As customers’ lives have shifted, so have the ways the company is meeting their needs. In addition to 1,000 “Ship from Store” locations, curbside pickup is available in 75 locations to provide customers a comfortable, contactless and seamless experience, with plans to expand both programs in the coming months.
Among the steps the company is taking to bring customers confidence is implementing rigorous cleaning routines throughout each store, providing hand sanitizer stations at front doors, temporarily closing fitting rooms and supplying all employees with high-quality, reusable face masks to wear during their shifts and encouraging customers to wear a face covering while shopping.
In addition, Gap Inc. stores will install plexiglass health guard partitions in front of registers and for mobile payments, post signage encouraging customers to observe social distancing guidelines, actively monitoring the flow of customers in stores and quarantining returns for 24 hours before putting them back on the sales floor.
The company will also ensure employees follow healthy hygiene habits, such as frequent hand washing or sanitizing and monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms before heading to work with a provided health checklist.
Kohl’s plans to reopen stores in 10 states on May 11, after opening units in four states earlier this week. Following local guidelines and health information, the company will open additional Kohl’s stores in the coming weeks, taking the same deliberate, measured approach.
In preparation for a safe reopening, the company has made significant enhancements to the store environment and operations to prioritize the health and safety of customers and associates. These include social distancing measures, and numerous cleaning and sanitization measures, as well as wellness and temperature checks, safety training and the use of masks and gloves for our associates.
“We are pleased to begin welcoming our customers back to Kohl’s,” Michelle Gass, Kohl’s CEO, said. “As we all adjust to a new normal, we will continue to provide the easy and efficient store experience that Kohl’s customers love, while implementing many new rigorous procedures that prioritize the safety of our associates and customers. We are taking an informed, measured approach based on a number of factors to reopen our stores on a phased timeline, with about 25 percent of our stores open by next week.”
Kohl’s customers can expect to changes at stores to support ongoing health and safety precautionary measures that include offering dedicated shopping hours for at-risk individuals, including seniors, those who are pregnant or have underlying health conditions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., as well as signage and floor decals placed throughout the store to encourage six feet of social distancing, with a particular focus on high traffic areas such as customer service and checkout.
For stores that have two or more entrances, one entrance has been closed and each store will operate with a single point of entry. An associate greeter will be stationed at the front of the store with the sole role of welcoming customers, sanitizing carts between each use and limiting occupancy, as appropriate.
In-aisle fixtures have been removed to increase space for customers to pass through the aisles while adhering to social distancing guidelines, and Kohl’s has installed protective barriers at all registers and will offer touchless payment through Kohl’s Pay on the Kohl’s App to make the checkout experience as contactless as possible. Checkout lanes will be cleaned by an associate after each customer transaction, including the sanitation of the pin pad and counter, with hand sanitizer readily available at each register and throughout the store for customer use.
Kohl’s has also made adjustments to the returns process to minimize contact between the customer and associate. In addition, to support social distancing, Kohl’s will accept Amazon Returns in a separate location within the store.
Kohl’s will continue to offer limited-contact drive-up service at most stores for buy online, pick up in store and ship-to-store orders.
All Kohl’s associates will participate in mandatory wellness and temperature checks before their shifts and any associate who has a temperature or exhibits other common COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to return home and seek medical attention.
All employees will wear masks and gloves while in the store and will undergo health and safety training on new policies and procedures before returning to work. Kohl’s has reduced the number of associates in the store at one time and is adjusting associate placement within the store to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Men’s wear retailer Suitsupply launched a “new retail journey” as many of its more than 140 stores reopen. As part of a multi-point plan, Suitsupply introduced Safe Shopping Screens–free-standing partitions allowing for safe, up-close interaction without modifying the customer’s behavior during pinning sessions.
To reduce concentration of in-store guests, Suitsupply implemented a guided virtual experience helping customers pre-select items for store visits through co-browsing sessions with live style experts on Suitsupply.com. The brand goes a step further with an optional appointment booking tool to reserve prepared fitting rooms and private shopping suites.