Anna and Monia, managers in two of our Italian stores, were interviewed by Anna Lamboni, Retail Coordinator Italy, to share how their stores’ reopening process went after several weeks under lockdown.
Your stores reopened a few weeks ago. How did it feel to come back and open again?
Anna (Okaïdi Sondrio) :It was really strange to open again in a dark, nearly empty shopping centre (in Italy, children’s clothing stores were considered essential and allowed to open the day after Easter even though the country was still under lockdown). We were the only store to be open on our side of the centre.
It felt empty, and yet we were ready to get going again.
After more than a month, wanting normality, to go back to the store, to see our customers again was very strong.
Monia (Okaïdi Merate) : The first day we reopened, we didn’t know what to expect: but our desire to restart was greater than our fear.
After more than a month, wanting normality, to go back to the store, to see our customers again was very strong. We wanted to go back to the store, to lead again.
How does the team work on a daily basis? Have you created new rhythms and habits?
Monia : The team has made all the difference: the priority is to keep our customers safe, to tell them about the steps we’ve taken to follow all the guidelines and best practices. This is very important in a space where many people come through every day.
How have the customers reacted? Both at first, and now?
Anna : Our customers are glad the store is open again and are happy with our services.
Some seem a bit disoriented, and they’ve had some trouble adjusting to the new safety measures, but we’re here to help them.
Monia : The customers were thrilled to see us again, to be able to shop and spend some time shopping for their children.
Many customers appreciated how careful we were about the safety measures, and they’re gradually getting used to the new rules.
What has changed the most in terms of customer relations?
Monia : Our aim as a team was to be optimistic during a time that is full of uncertainty and fear. We worked hard to make the store a place where customers could feel happy and relaxed.
In our case, being able to receive customers again allows us to give them time just for themselves, to meet their needs and to offer services that make a difference, such as the e-reservations and online sales on okaidi.it.
We worked hard to make the store a place where customers could feel happy and relaxed.
Anna : Our customer relations focus is about being more personal and attentive to the needs of our shoppers—it’s about really engaging with them.
The changing rooms are still closed and children try things on at home, so we’ve had a few more returns. We’re also promoting the Okaïdi.it website and showing that we’re very available through our e-shop if customers are unable to visit the store.
Are customers expecting anything different, or new?
Monia : Customers need to feel reassured about their safety, to have fast and omnichannel service. They also appreciate that we’ve extended exchange time limits and are accepting loyalty benefits that expired during the lockdown.
Anna : They would like to not have to queue up, but that’s difficult right now. During the first few weeks, they were also asking about home delivery a lot.
Have you seen general changes in retail in Italy?
Anna : Yes, customers want to see new services and are looking for personalised sales. They’ve gotten used to buying online.
They’ve gotten used to buying online.
Monia : The store closings have sped up the omnichannel transition for our customers: many customers who never bought online went on our website during the lockdown.