Coronavirus pandemic

Businesses adapt to ensure safety as Singapore reopens

Above, left: Hard Rock Cafe has developed a digital menu that is accessed by scanning a QR code. Above, right: Smart blinds retailer mc.2 now schedules one-to-one virtual consultations via phone calls, e-mail, WhatsApp and video calls instead, and cu
Above: Hard Rock Cafe has developed a digital menu that is accessed by scanning a QR code. PHOTO: HARD ROCK CAFE
Above, left: Hard Rock Cafe has developed a digital menu that is accessed by scanning a QR code. Above, right: Smart blinds retailer mc.2 now schedules one-to-one virtual consultations via phone calls, e-mail, WhatsApp and video calls instead, and cu
Smart blinds retailer mc.2 now schedules one-to-one virtual consultations via phone calls, e-mail, WhatsApp and video calls instead, and customers need to visit the physical showroom only to confirm the final purchase.PHOTO: MC.2

From setting up physical barriers between customers to digitalising processes that traditionally require physical contact, businesses are adapting as Singapore enters the second phase of safe reopening.

Pre-coronavirus, beauty product retailers such as Sephora used to have physical testers in store, as well as staff on hand to help customers apply and try on cosmetics and other products.

With safe distancing measures in place, staff will have to adhere to a strict no-touch policy where they are not able to apply products on customers.

With that in mind, Sephora has launched a new Scan-to-Interact feature on its app.

Customers can use the app to scan product barcodes and bring up information such as reviews and product ratings.

The app also includes a virtual make-up artist. The feature uses facial recognition technology to virtually place colours onto parts of the customer's face to allow customers to try on products.

While malls and shops are allowed to reopen, several companies have also moved their traditional showrooms online, using videoconferencing or live streaming to demonstrate products to customers.

Electronics retailer Audio House and technology and appliances brand Ruhens are leveraging both live and pre-recorded video demonstrations to showcase their products.

Audio House also connects with customers through calls, WhatsApp, e-mail and an online concierge service.

Smart blinds retailer mc.2 has also moved some elements of its showroom online to reduce the number of visits customers make to its physical store. In the past, customers had to visit the showroom in Ubi Avenue 3 multiple times to select the fabric and for other steps in picking the blinds they want.

The company now schedules one-to-one virtual consultations via phone calls, e-mail, WhatsApp and video calls instead, and customers need to visit the physical showroom only to confirm the final purchase.

 
 
 
 

For property agents, online home viewings have become more commonplace over the recent months.

ERA Realty Network will continue to offer these online viewings and virtual tours of showflats.

This, it said, will help facilitate the shortlisting process before clients decide on which homes they want to view in person, reducing the amount of physical viewing and trips that customers need to make.

Customers have access to 360degree images to get a better idea of the property they are interested in.

Food and beverage businesses such as Hard Rock Cafe and popular white bee hoon chain, White Restaurant, have incorporated a combination of physical and technological measures into their operations.

Hard Rock Cafe has developed a digital menu that is accessed by scanning a QR code.

Staff will also escort customers to and from the exit to prevent the need for customers to touch surfaces in the restaurant unnecessarily.

White Restaurant has installed special screens to physically separate customers at different tables.

 

It is also developing an e-queueing system where customers can order from their phones while in the queue.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2020, with the headline 'Businesses adapt to ensure safety as Singapore reopens'. Subscribe