The question that every beauty enthusiast is asking right now is “When will my favorite retailer go back to normal and provide the same quality of in-store experience?”
That is a great question, but I am not sure we can answer this just yet. While Boots UK just reopened their testers, makeup services, and brow services it does not look like the US has plans to follow suit anytime soon. It would seem with a health grade protocol for sanitation, proper PPE, and limited in-store capacity, cosmetic retailers could begin reopening their in-store services safely. Yet we have heard nothing of the kind.
So what is the future of the in-store experience? Well….we can only speculate.
Since the US was reported to have had the highest number of Covid-19 cases, it seems reasonable to suspect that cosmetic retailers will reopen the in-store experience in 2-3 phases.
- The first phase may allow the use of testers but only with the assistance of beauty consultants, and the testers would not be available for self-service.
- The second phase may allow the reopening of makeup services by using a strict PPE requirement and a health grade sanitation protocol that avoids cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria.
- The final phase would allow for customers to resume self-service with testers and have little to no PPE requirements, but will practice stringent sanitation.
How soon these phases start and how long each phase will take has not been made clear. I can only hope for the sake of brick and mortar stores this will be sooner rather than later.
Brands are Focusing on Adopting Health Grade Protocols & Training
We know how serious Covid-19 is and we also know how to avoid getting it and transmitting it. Since the outbreak began, the CDC has been quick to update their website with the most current and accurate information on how to mitigate the disease. Alongside the everflowing information track, various sanitation companies have worked diligently to bring forth the best products and education to help everyone get back to work safely. The beauty industry in particular has training, certifications, kits, products, and protocols that focus on the health and wellness of employees and customers.
Retailers like Merle Norman have opted to have their franchise owners get trained and certified in Sanitation Standards from Sanitation Conversation™. The owners and their staff learned how to properly apply cosmetics by using health grade sanitation protocols and mitigate infections disease. Sanitation Conversation™ calls these “health grade protocols'' because they were designed in partnership with a microbiologist who has had experience managing a Level 3 Laboratory and knows a thing or two about cross-contamination.
The Alcone Company of New York also invested in the health and wellness of their employees and customers by adopting the training and certification for their entire staff. While they are still complying with a state mandate that does not allow customers to self-service testers, they are being proactive and will be ready when they are allowed to reopen their services.
Another available sanitation training and certification is from Lucas-cide, a manufacturer of hospital grade disinfectant. It is imperative that your employees know how to properly use this type of disinfectant or the efficacy of the product's integrity is compromised and may not deliver the “kill” qualities it claims. The training helps the learner understand what type of bacteria and viruses it “kills”, how long it needs to dwell, and what types of surfaces it can be used on.
I have witnessed several businesses use this type of product incorrectly. Employees will spray a surface and then immediately wipe off the product. While the dwell times for products vary, I am certain there is not a product on the market that “kills” in less than 5 seconds. Training is essential and should be considered a priority to reopening guest services.
Covid-19 has many companies seeking third party validation in order to be properly trained and certified in sanitation protocols. A third-party endorsement provides validity to health grade beauty standards. These kinds of certifications let your customer know you are taking their health seriously by seeking proper training for your employees. You are also letting your employees know that you are sending them back to work protected and armed with the tools necessary to avoid contacting any kind of infectious disease.
5 Steps to Successfully Reopen In-Store Services
For brands to successfully and safely reopen in-store services, they can create a roadmap anchored around the following five points:
- Develop in-store processes for ensuring that health grade sanitation protocols are properly executed.
- Develop a system that ensures that PPE, disposables and other supplies needed to lower the spread of bacteria and consistently stocked.
- Seek third party training and certification to ensure your employees have been armed with the tools necessary for a safe in-store experience.
- Create store audits to ensure the processes, protocols and procedures are followed.
- Market the changes and training your store has implemented to prioritize the health and wellness of your employees and your customer.
The lessons learned from COVID far outweigh the unexpected impact it made on our industry. It has really brought attention to how we view sanitation. The whole world knows the difference between clean, sanitary, and disinfected. They are very distinct modalities that finally have their own identity. Testers and proper testing supplies have also been given the attention they needed and are finally going to be addressed. It is my hope that large retailers take advantage of companies like Sanitation Conversation™ and Lucas-cide for training and third-party certification to adequately train their employees so that guests can continue to benefit from their expertise.