In light of the business secretary's announcement that all non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen in England on Monday, we have compiled a list of "Top 10 Tips" on getting your retail store customer ready.
This new way of life which we are all still adjusting to will be with us for the foreseeable future, and retailers are faced with the task of instilling confidence in their customers to help them feel safe in returning to their brick and mortar stores.
Here are some top tips to help prepare your retail store, to give your customers confidence in your abilities to keep them as safe as possible.
We’ve seen them in the supermarkets, and they will be implemented across a wide variety of businesses still to open – they will be part of this new way of life for a while. Installing plastic screening helps control the spread of germs by stopping them in their tracks, providing a barrier for them to land on (from a cough or sneeze for example), helping to protect your staff and your customers from infection.
Ideal locations to place these screens may include;
This common sight in a hospital, will now be seen throughout the retail, entertainment and business worlds. Although the new norm will most likely see the majority of individuals carrying their own hand sanitizer, it will be seen as good practise to provide gel stations throughout your store. A key area to place the station would be at entrance points to the shop, with clear signage showing you must anti-bac your hands upon entrance. If you provide baskets or trolleys, a cleaning station should be provided for customers to clean the handles.
However, hand sanitizer should not replace hand washing – therefore it would be recommended that you install signage in appropriate places to remind people to wash their hand thoroughly and always ensure there is soap in the dispensers.
You may also wish to provide paper towels, as air hand drying machines may increase the risk of transmission of COVID19.
All hand washing areas should be disinfected at the start and end of each day, at the very least.
Ensure you place floor stickers to ensure customers and staff keep 2 meters away from each other, at all times. In a retail shop, you may wish to implement a one way system – this would be a good idea in situations where there is not enough space for two people to pass at a safe distance. Another consideration if you have multiple entrance and exit points, is to have one way in and one way out.
Whether you own a large retail store or a small independent shop, you may wish to limit the number of people allowed inside your store at once to minimise risk, build customer confidence and protect staff.
You may want to implement the floor markers for customers to form a safe-distance queue outside your store too – just remember to check with your local authority incase there are any restrictions on what you can, and cannot place on the ground outside your store.
Experts believe that COVID19 will result in an estimated 20% of the population replying on cash payments. With COVID19’s ability to survive on surfaces for some time, many people do not want to handle cash, therefore if you do not already offer contactless payments – now is a very good time to get onboard.
Some popular contactless payment terminals available for retail stores include;
Regardless of the type of business you are running, you may need to consider providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as there may be instances where staff cannot stay 2 metres away from each other, or customers. Providing PPE will ensure both staff and customers feel safe in your store even if the 2 metre rule is not achievable.
Some examples of PPE may include;
Tesco aired this commercial on TV and promoted it throughout their social media, but even without a big budget you can film a simple walkthrough of your store demonstrating the new safety measures you are providing.
Tips on filming your walkthrough;
The more you film about the changes, the more confidence it will give customers in knowing what to expect when they arrive. It will also help ensure your new safety procedures are understood and better adhered to.
Promote your video across your owned media channels such as your website and social media – remember to ask staff to share and like the video to help it reach a wider audience – for free!
If you have a screen in-store, perhaps play the video on the screen but remember to include subtitles for playing on mute.
*Top Tip: Including subtitles on your video is a great idea for being viewed on mobile too, as 80% of videos viewed on mobile are played in silent mode.
Many people are living much of their lives in the digital sphere at the moment, from working from home, to keeping in touch with loved ones, therefore it is not surprising that there has been a surge in social media usage.
Help instil confidence in your community by posting on your social media platform(s) about what’s been happening instore – even if you are not open for business yet.
Share posts about getting the shop ready to open, share a picture of the shop and tell the customers how much you miss them, share photos of all of your lovely stock and say how you can’t wait to share this stock with them.
Get creative! Film short demo videos of items you have in your shop, film them in the store, or how about at home? Remember to film in spaces which have a lot of natural light.
If this leads to enquires via social media – which it very well should - you could consider allowing customers to purchase through Facebook for example.
Lastly, if your business is based in the UK, each of your sites can apply for the "Good to Go" scheme, which is a free UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to reassure your customers that your business adheres to Government and public health guidance. You can then broadcast this across your social media channels to help instill confidence in your customers to return to your store.
Does your shop close over lunch and all staff descend upon the same cafeteria? A plan for instances such as this will need to be in place before opening to ensure too many staff are not forced to congregate in one are at the same time. Are there other places staff can go for lunch safely? Can their break patterns be staggered?
Help minimise the number of surfaces which customers need to touch in order to enter, and make their way around your store. For example, you could leave the front door open so customers are not having touch the door handle.
As consumers, we love to pick up, touch and feel the products we are considering. With COVID19 it is advisable to erect signs to tell customers to try and only pick up items they intend to purchase. Consider how you can help customers get a better understanding of products without first picking them up.
Could information from the product label or tag be available on the POS signage? Could you create a demo video of the product? Can a “tester” product be displayed in a manner which gives the customer a better 360 degree view? Think about different ways you would like to try and understand products before purchase… without touching them first.
Also think about staff and the items they must come into contact with. Disinfect till points, fridge doors, coffee machine buttons, regularly.
We are all adjusting to this different way of life, for now it is the new normal. Hopefully these tips will help you build a clearer plan as to how to get your retail store ready for customers when government restrictions are eased in your area.
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