The customer experience is paramount in the world of retail. From high street shops to food service and supermarkets, attention to detail is crucial – the service matters almost as much as the product.
Customers have changing tastes and are expecting more from their stores, with retailers facing the added pressure of competition from new entrants and online retail.
Despite it being a challenging market, the Australian retail sector has continued to grow this year, with the ABS Retail Trade figures indicating that retail turnover increased by 3.1 per cent in June 2018 compared with June 2017.
Food retailing has led the rises, while there have also been increases in clothing, footwear and personal accessories. There have also been rises for cafes, restaurants and takeaways.
The image and presentation of a retail outlet must entice customers to shop, so visibly clean flooring is a prerequisite. Retailers are increasingly aware of the importance of dovetailing delivery of cleaning services with customer expectations.
The shift to late-night shopping, and even 24-hour opening means more cleaning is now taking place when customers are present.
Clearly this raises concerns about noise disturbance and the trip risk to customers and staff from trailing cables. The challenge is ensuring that the cleaning operation itself is not only effective but efficient and discreet. From the premises manager’s viewpoint, delivery has to be cost-effective too.
We find that for many clients in the retail sector the choice of machinery comes down to its versatility. In retail stores there are often a wide variety of flooring. High shine hard floors, carpets and escalators are just some of the surfaces to be maintained.
Fortunately, technological advances, not least in battery-powered equipment, are helping to improve the cleaning services provided. Improvements in lithium ion batteries in particular, have unleashed a new generation of highly flexible, cordless cleaning machines.
Scrubber dryers that can clean a variety of floor types have made themselves indispensable in the retail sector. Large stores appreciate the value of this versatility, as one machine – which can mop, wash, scrub and dry in one pass – takes marble, vinyl, wood, non-slip floors and low-pile carpets in its stride, not to mention entrance matting and escalators.
The ability of a scrubber dryer with cylindrical brushes to clean deep in the grout lines of bathrooms, toilet and kitchen areas is a major plus.
A scrubber dryer can apply sufficient pressure to clean thoroughly into crevices, achieving reliably high standards of hygiene. Only clean solution is applied to the floor, as the scrubber dryer’s brush action propels the contaminated liquid into a holding tank.
The efficiency of the process reduces the volume of solution required dramatically, so there are valuable savings in water and chemical consumption as well as time and labour costs.
Large floor areas with a variety of coverings are not a prerequisite for running a scrubber dryer. Smaller establishments can reap the benefits too. Compact, cordless models – with a cleaning width of say, 24cm – are ideal for food service areas and areas with confined spaces.
Quiet in operation, a modern, cordless scrubber dryer has the additional advantage of leaving hard floors dry and safe for customers to walk on within minutes.
The retail sector is a tough place for businesses to survive and thrive. For consumers, choice and convenience will continue to be a focus. Retailers must innovate and continue to make changes, and can benefit from technology to support these goals.
Cleaning methods that can aid attention to detail, speed of service and customer-centric professionalism are well suited to the highly competitive and demanding world of retail.
*Gordon McVean is international sales and marketing director of Truvox International