London retail reopens following the Covid-19 closures.

With consumer and worker safety in mind, RetailNext has formed a collaboration aimed at aiding retailers who are reopening stores with data-driven technology.

“RetailNext, with support from a consortium of private enterprise companies, retailers, and property owners, has created ShopSafe — a not-for-profit enterprise focused on getting American retail businesses open again with infrastructure to deliver real-time occupancy data for shoppers to better understand precautionary measures in place,” the company said in a statement today. “This free framework delivers transparency to crucial occupancy metrics to help guide safer experiences in physical stores.”

The metrics include traffic per square foot, occupancy per square foot and average time inside a retail venue, among other data.

The collaborators include Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Intel, Foursquare and LiveRamp. Participating mall operators and retailers include Easton Town Center, Ulta Beauty, B8ta, Ted Baker and Neighborhood Goods. RetailNext said launch partners include Yoobic, MishiPay and Radius8 with “each delivering a differentiated solution for the ShopSafe retail participants.” Activant Capital, an investor in RetailNext, is also a partner.

RetailNext said ShopSafe’s real-time and consumer-facing data includes “occupancy and indications of thresholds as well as average time spent inside a given venue. The data will also be made available to those looking to integrate information into consumer-facing apps so consumers can more confidently plan their shopping trips.”

The company noted that the data can be “readily used to understand capacity at consumers’ favorite retailers in real time.” RetailNext said the retail partners involved in the initiative plan to “deploy the technology in a variety of ways, including integrations into the retailers’ consumer-facing apps as well as other consumer apps that share store location details.”

The impetus behind the non-profit effort, which includes the launch of a dedicated web site, is based on the impact of COVID-19 on the retail industry. “A vast majority of retailers have needed to close doors, leaving many unemployed or furloughed while sales stalled,” RetailNext noted. “As the country begins to reopen, the retail industry is looking to stabilize and welcome shoppers back safely.”

Alexei Agratchev, chief executive officer and cofounder of RetailNext, said as “America and the rest of the world adapts to the ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19, retailers need a source of reliable consumer information now more than ever.“

Alexei Agratchev

Alexei Agratchev  Patrick MacLeod

Agratchev said ShopSafe provides benefits “to everyone involved in the retail industry, giving peace of mind to consumers, employees, venue operators and retailers themselves during this period of gradual reopening and beyond.”

For Ulta Beauty, the technology will be used by guests to check store occupancy. “As we reopen our stores across the country, we’re excited to empower our guests with the best, most transparent data available,” said Prama Bhatt, chief digital officer of Ulta Beauty. “For safety reasons, our stores will limit occupancy and we also know guests have individual comfort levels related to crowds. This initiative allows us to share occupancy levels with guests directly, enhancing our transparency in safety and ensuring guests feel most comfortable when coming to shop at Ulta Beauty.”

RetailNext said retail venues included in the ShopSafe initiative “will identify as such, and consumers will have ready access to occupancy related information for the locations they plan to visit.” The company said the technology infrastructure will launch at shopping locations, “but can be expanded to include other public venues such as sports and entertainment arenas, transportation hubs, museums and more.”