From staffing to security, retailers must get their teams and stores into shape to ensure they can cope with increased footfall during the Games.
The additional footfall that London 2012 will bring to stores across the capital and the UK means businesses must ensure their store operations are in tip-top condition, from staffing to security, in order to cope.
“We are predicting peak trading to be from 4pm onwards, with many specta- tors coming back later in the day [from the Olympic stadium] to the West End,” says Jace Tyrrell, communications director at the New West End Company (NWEC), which represents some 600 retailers across Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. “The volleyball event is being held in Horse Guards Parade [in central London] at 11pm and we know our Middle Eastern customers for example love to stay up late and shop, so there will be later trading.”
Nat Wakely, director of selling opera- tions at John Lewis, says the department store chain is already looking at staffing rotas.”At the moment we get lunchtime peaks but during the Olympics we may get early and late evening peaks, so we’re looking now at how many people we’ll need and when,”he says.
He believes John Lewis could need a further 100 employees across its central London stores. Tyrrell agrees that bringing in experienced staff from other areas of the country is a clever tactic to help the busier stores cope with increased demand.
Because of the additional footfall an increase in security - both in terms of a people presence and physical deterrents - will also be required.”Retailers should employ a range of protective measures, from hard cable locks to soft tagging, so they can maintain open merchandising but still have a visible deterrent,” says Russell Holland, sales and marketing director at retail security firm Check- point Systems.
A greater presence of security guards in store is also essential. “The major threats are likely to be increased risk of theft, vandalism, plus security and terrorist threats,” says Steve Burridge, risk management specialist at consultancy Lockton Companies. He says retailers must”expect the unexpected”.
NWEC and the police are encouraging retailers to work closely together to do just that. “There will be a number of scenario test events we will work on,” says Tyrrell. In July, NWEC will hold an event to help retailers get in training for the Olympics.
Ensuring security of payments is also vital. Ed Brindley, director of business development at retail technology firm Wincor Nixdorf, suggests retailers may want to look at increasing the number of self-checkouts. “There will be a higher level of cash being spent in the stores and people not familiar with the currency may be handing over big notes. The less people are able to touch the cash the more secure it becomes,”he says.
Payments security online also needs to be looked at.”Retailers need to ensure they are fully compliant [with Payment Card Industry security] and have adequate capacity on their servers to cope with any anticipated upturn in demand. Contingency plans should be considered to offset the threat of a DDoS [distributed denial of service] attack, and fraudulent sites set up in emulation of recognised brands can divert significant revenue away from genuine retailer sites,” says Andrew McClelland, director of operations and regulatory affairs at etail trade body IMRG.
Planning will be key for retailers who want to win in the Games and whether they manage to translate the footfall uplift into sales will depend on how well they get themselves into shape