With 92% of consumers claiming a clean, organised store environment will increase their probability of making a purchase, Katie Westerman, Chief Marketing & Development Officer at SBFM, explores the growing importance of hygiene and sanitation in delivering the ultimate customer experience (CX).

From digital native disruptors entering the traditional realms of brick-and-mortar stores, to growing Gen Z and millennial spending power, and tech-driven scale ups, 2022 has unleashed a new world of opportunities for retail leaders.

 Katie Westerman, Chief Marketing & Development Officer at SBFM

Nevertheless, as the sector seeks to overcome the challenges of the last two years, the path to those opportunities will not be a straightforward one. Undoubtedly there are plenty of hurdles that will keep retailers’ hypervigilant and focused on their consumers and how they can deliver winning CX in an evolving landscape.

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One such hurdle – a lasting remnant of the pandemic – is the ability of brands to assure customers of a safe and hygienic shopping environment. Likely to remain a constant in 2022 and beyond, facilities management will be central to addressing this.

A clean slate for retail

In retail, long-term business evolution will necessitate fundamental changes to FM strategies. Much like the premises in which they manage, retail FM has advanced exponentially to respond rapidly to the changing real time demands of the sector.

It might be a cliché, but in the highly diverse retail industry, no two premises are the same. FM solutions, therefore, need to be increasingly tailored and adaptive to the environments in which they operate. Be that the ability to mobilise for changing store layouts quickly, managing and maintaining diverse equipment, or adapting to changing footfall demands. 

Having detailed knowledge of aspects such as anticipated footfall, average occupancy rates, as well as areas which may need additional attention like high traffic touchpoints, can aid this. Enabling companies to shape strategies that focus on the areas that will matter most to customers and staff alike. While at the same time facilitating the ability to quickly ramp-up FM services to deal with seasonal peaks, special events or emergencies.

By staying on the forefront of innovation and investing appropriately, today’s FM providers use the latest systems and technology to create complete schematic floor plans, quickly identify the fundamental issues on site, and develop accurate cleaning strategies for any building.

Innovation without risk

An effective FM partner will continuously review the marketplace to remain at the forefront of developments in the sector, embracing innovation that can improve cleaning standards, realise savings and efficiencies throughout the lifetime of the contract. 

Carefully planning and applying the most appropriate technology can not only drive innovation and higher standards, but also achieve greater efficiencies in cleaning practices to optimise the removal of pathogens and protect retail customers and staff alike. Innovation for its’ own sake is not helpful.

To facilitate optimal and effective cleaning in-store, for example, floor scrubber drier technology combines the flexibility of a mop with the power and speed of industrial scrubber driers. The result is the ability to clean 70% faster than conventional wet mopping and up to 30% faster than traditional auto scrubbing.

For high-level cleaning, specialised high reach cleaning vacuums are ideal for rapid dust extraction in retail environments. As store layouts get bigger, they replace the requirement for deploying expensive, inflexible, and time-consuming equipment like cherry pickers and scaffolding. Cleaners do not need to be trained to work at height, and the associated risks are eliminated.

Continual improvement

Of course, technological innovation should not only be limited to the cleaning regimes themselves. By maximising the use of technology, facilities managers can drive service improvements, increase transparency, and support business continuity.

In retail, one of the greatest challenges that can make or break a commercial cleaning and FM contract is the ability to deliver an uninterrupted service and achieve full attendance. For retailers with large, national estates with small cleaning teams on each site it is an issue often amplified, and one which can cause major problems if not addressed.

Equipping cleaning operatives with the latest cleaning technology and devices will do little to resolve this challenge. Instead, leveraging of existing staff support solutions, when supported with tried and tested processes for contingent support and good management, can aid in solving the problems and create long-term service continuity.

The implementation of tech-driven solutions, leveraging existing workplace support solutions – to source and identify contingent support from a pre-defined group of colleagues who are available for work, trained, and site-inducted – helps manage unplanned absences and source reliable cover quickly. Just one example of innovation with purpose.

A bright future

In 2022 the onus will be on brands and retailers not just to deliver an improved customer experience, but also regain the trust of consumers who slowly emerge from the eCommerce bubble of the last two years and return to the high street. Central to this will be maintaining clean and hygienic environments in which to shop.

To find out more about SBFM’s retail FM solutions, and how we are supporting the UK’s leading brands, visit: