A Reopening Guide for Retailers
As vaccines continue to roll out and states begin to open up, many retailers will be opening their doors to the public again, perhaps for the first time since early last year. However, operations won’t return to 100 percent normal; after 2020, the customer experience will look a bit different. If you’re planning on reopening your retail store, follow these six simple steps to do it safely and strategically:
Implement Crucial Technology to Go Digital
To stay on top of the latest digital trends, retailers that haven’t already should look to implement frictionless payment technology, such as mobile wallets or contactless kiosks with EMV and NFC technology. These solutions expedite transactions and reduce the spread of harmful pathogens.
Additionally, providing endless aisle-like opportunities with strategically placed kiosks will allow your customers to browse items without travelling around the store, minimizing contact with other shoppers. Outside of your brick-and-mortar store, leveraging e-commerce will maximize your sales, allowing you to make up for lost revenue as well as provide an alternative for customers not yet ready to return to in-person shopping.
Rethink Your Store’s Purpose
In 2021, retailers will need to get creative with their store’s purpose in order to encourage consumers to shop with them. For example, showrooming has been around for a while, but it’s more crucial now than ever before. As they reopen, retailers should utilize their stores as showrooms, reworking the ratio of their back-of-store vs. front-of-store to support greater online fulfillment needs.
It’s also worthwhile to consider selling your products in different ways, such as offering a curated subscription for a monthly fee, or providing personal shopping services. These options will be convenient alternatives to in-store shopping, and will work to build customer loyalty.
Ensure You Have the Proper Safeguards in Place
Although states are reopening, it will be some time before enough people are vaccinated and the threat of the pandemic fades. To ensure your establishment remains a safe and healthy space, make sure you have the proper protocols in place before reopening.
You can protect your staff and customers by using protective shields at the checkout counter. This will ensure that the passing of germs is kept to a minimum during transactions. Retailers should also consider protective surface coverings for common touchpoints, such as door handles, screens and counters to reduce the number of germs that stay on surfaces throughout the store.
Conduct Purposeful Inspections
Although you should have tools like protective shields and surface coverings in place, it’s still important to ensure these measures are effective. That’s why retailers should conduct visual touchpoint inspections to document and assess cleanliness in all areas of their stores.
Retailers should consider black light inspections around areas of high risk, such as waste bins, cleaning cabinets, reception areas, and conference rooms. With visual proof, it will be easier to determine what areas need to be targeted the most throughout the day. This will allow retail staff to set up a regular and frequent sanitization schedule to keep all who enter the store safe.
Post Signage and Information
Many customers will be excited to return to in-store shopping. To control crowds, retailers should include informational signage throughout their store to guide customers. Arrows on signs or on the floor will direct customers to follow a specific flow of traffic in order to reduce contact with fellow shoppers.
Markers can be placed on the floor to ensure customers remain six feet apart when waiting in line at checkout. To encourage proper mask-wearing, signage should indicate that masks must be worn over the mouth and nose at all times while in the building.
Recognize Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19
Cases are slowing and vaccination rates are rising, but the risks to your staff and customers will continue. Train your staff (virtually, if you have to) on the guidelines they must follow, as well as train them on recognizing the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Emphasize to your staff that they should stay home if they are ill.
Consumers may come into your store exhibiting signs of COVID-19 as well. It's crucial that your staff can recognize the symptoms and have a plan in place with how to communicate with the customer. It will also help to consider appointing one staff member per shift as the point person for COVID-related situations in order to organize the process and minimize response time.
Retail success is going to be driven by recognizing that customers have evolved over the course of the last year. Retailers are going to need to meet customers on their own terms by bringing the current digital retail space indoors. Looking out for your customers and staff can strengthen your reputation and avoid revenue loss. Following the steps above will lead you and your business towards a successful reopening.
Heidi Orpilla is the digital content specialist at Star Micronics, where she creates and manages content for Star's blog, social media, website, products, and more.
Related story: 5 Must-Have Post-Pandemic Retail Technologies
Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics, a leading supplier of small printers, audio components, high-precision machine tools, and precision parts, where she creates content about Star’s retail POS solutions for social media, the Star Micronics POS Blog, and more.
Star is proud to offer a wide range of solutions for retailers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, including: the POSShield sneeze guard which is lightweight, portable, and does not require countertop mounting or drilling; tamper-proof labels to securely seal delivery, catering, and to-go food orders; CloudPRNT online ordering technology to help businesses quickly and easily leverage e-commerce; and more. To learn more, please visit the Star COVID-19 Toolbox here.