03 July 2020   

10 minute read
As we work together over the coming months to welcome customers back and navigate the fresh challenges ahead, it’s more important than ever to collaborate and exchange insights and knowledge with your retailer peers. We asked the Vice President of Sales and Operations at Sun Retail, Australia & New Zealand, Asokan Sathurayar, to share how Sunglass Hut tackled the challenging circumstances of COVID-19, how they are winning back customer confidence and their plans for the future.
How have your stores been affected by COVID-19?

All of our stores across Australia and New Zealand were affected by COVID-19, like most of the retail industry. We decided that in the best interests of our staff and customers we should temporarily close our stores until it was deemed as safe to reopen. Our hope was that in taking this action, we will do our part to help “flatten the curve”. We are now in a place that we are starting to reopen and welcome customers back to our stores, with appropriate measures in place with great results so far.

What advice would you give other retailers that haven’t reopened?

Open again when you feel you can welcome everyone back safely. Feel confident that you are offering the best environment for your staff and customers’ wellbeing, and implement all appropriate steps outlined by the government in place to live up to this – every day. 

What measures have you put in place to maintain social distancing at your stores?

At Sunglass Hut we have adopted extra protocol in all our stores which are stringently adhered to by everyone. These include deep cleaning procedures for stores and product (especially when product is tried on), social distancing measures of 1.5m between everyone in the store, and allowing a maximum amount of customers within the store at any given time.

How has customer behaviour changed since this health crisis began?

Of course consumer behaviour has shifted, but it’s our job as retailers to understand their needs and pivot to that. As an organisation, we are finely tuned to our audience and are committed to meet their needs, down to how they want to communicate with us. Be it online, bricks and mortar stores or CRM activity we continue to offer customers product and service that is relevant to them.

How have you communicated with customers during this time?

We have continued being very transparent with our customers over our social and digital channels, emails and our website, so they are aware of how we can continue to service them during this time. We have found ways to share this unprecedented time with them through a wide range of content to inform and entertain. Our customers are part of our community and we like to interact with them on a personal level, not just a transactional one.

What are you looking forward to once restrictions ease?

Enjoying summer is a very obvious one. But I think it’s having all our Sunglass Hut crew back on board and continuing to share the passion, fun and lively attitude that can only be found in a Sunglass Hut store …that is what I am most looking forward to.