Design showcase: Dune London opens its first new store since lockdown

Footwear and accessories brand Dune London has opened its first new store since the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown. The store has introduced a host of new features to help it comply with social distancing requirements, and to reassure customers that it is safe to go shopping.

The 1,063 sq ft store at Centre:MK in Milton Keynes has been designed by an in-house team at Dune, and stocks ranges for men and women. It is located alongside branches of Kurt Geiger and The White Company, in a centre where the majority of stores have now reopened for business.

The retailer has developed its own methods to ensure customer safety, and to monitor footfall in times of social distancing. Only contactless payments are being taken, and disposable pop socks are provided for customers to try on shoes – which are then disinfected before being returned to display. In-store seating areas are being cleaned regularly and hand sanitiser stations have been positioned through the store.

The retailer warns that customers may have to queue outside its stores at busy times. However, all of its standalone stores have now reopened.

“Opening our latest store at Centre:MK is a key moment for Dune London,” says a company spokesperson. “This is our first to be designed from scratch with social distancing measures as part of the experience and feedback from customers has been very positive, which is reflected in the strength of the store’s performance from the outset. We are in a great location, in a centre with significant regional appeal that is run by a professional, engaged team that understands our needs and those of our customers.”

Retailers are finding that customers are far more apprehensive about visiting physical stores than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic. Retail innovation agency Outform ran a survey among US consumers in late May that showed more than two thirds (67%) wanted stores to offer self-checkout via their mobile phones. 

Many (43%) would happily use voice-activated technology if it helped minimise contact with payment terminals, while a third favour motion sensor systems. A quarter of respondents believed that appointment-only shopping would make their store visits safer.

Outform managing director EMEA Simon Hathaway says, “The survey showed an almost unanimous concern around safety among shoppers, and the statistics demonstrate a clear call for touchless retail as people seek to avoid physical interactions with products within the retail environment. 

“There’s an undeniable awareness - and excitement - that a return to physical retail ‘as normal’ has to take place, but our stats show shoppers are looking for retailers to invest in touchless tech and find new ways for them to interact with brands in-store.”