After months of restrictions forced many retailers and businesses to shut their doors, the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to appear. As lockdown begins to ease across the country, we’re taking small steps towards a return to the ‘new normal’, writes Dave Scheine, APAC Managing Director, Vend.
Over the next couple of weeks, many retailers – from large, big box retailers to independent stores – will be reopening their doors, reigniting their customers’ love for shopping local and taking their first steps in the post-COVID retail landscape.
While the return will be gradual and careful considerations must be made, regardless of your location, industry or customer make up, preparing for the ‘retail spring’ should be done sooner rather than later to ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running. Here are a few things to consider.
Triple check your state government’s policies
Before rushing to get stock back out on the floor and turning around the ‘closed’ sign, it’s important to confirm that the government in your state has given the all-clear to reopen. While they’re all working towards the federal government’s three-stage plan, each state is setting its own timeline, so processes for stores in Victoria might be different to those in Queensland. Visit your state’s government website or give your council a call to determine whether your store can re-open and any measures you need to comply with.
Take stock and identify opportunities
When physical doors began closing, many retailers moved some or all of their products offsite in the process of taking their operations online. If that was you, you’ll first need to understand what you have in stock, where it is, and how to get it back onto rails and shelves ready for your customers. A physical stocktake, compared side-by-side with your digital stock control system, will help you understand what you have on-hand, so you can ensure your shop is stocked with the right products for the months ahead.
Once you know your stock and where it is, product performance reports will help you determine which items to promote for the upcoming season. Retail point-of-software tools help you develop a holistic understanding of what you have in stock, and what might be in demand when customers return to your shop, so you can fill your store with potentially in-demand products.
Get your team on board
Any retail business owner will agree that outstanding customer service needs to be at the forefront of all operations, and who better to provide that service than your staff? Without them, you can’t reopen and create those unique, delightful customer experiences. First of all, confirm the employees that will be put back on the roster, and get in touch with them to see whether they’re healthy and available to work. Once you know who’s available and willing to go back to work, map out their rosters and distribute using a cloud-based system, such as Deputy, so everyone is on the same page.
Assess your health and safety measures
With hygiene becoming the hot topic of 2020, it’s going to be important to ensure both your staff and customers are protected and feel comfortable in your store. Signage, both inside and outside the store, that reminds customers to go home if they’re feeling sick, any changes to your policies, or outlines physical distancing measures are a great idea. Ensuring that both customers and employees have access to plenty of hand sanitiser and other protective equipment like masks and gloves will help keep them safe, healthy and comfortable to stay in your store. Guidelines might also dictate how many people you can have in-store and how close they can stand, so be on top of that and consider limiting the number of customers who are allowed in at any one time, closing fitting rooms, or even rearranging the layout to promote physical distancing. While restrictions are easing and the curve is flattening, it’s still imperative to be vigilant.
Take a look at your store’s tech with fresh eyes
There is still a long road ahead. Whether you’re conducting a stocktake or processing a customer’s order, technology is likely to be at the forefront of running a smooth operation. Save yourself some stress down the track by ensuring your electricity, water, landline and internet connections are in working order before you reopen, and making sure your POS and retail management systems are good to go. If it’s perhaps time to give your store’s technology an upgrade, visit LoveLocalRetail – a one-stop-shop for the biggest names in retail including Google, Prospa, Afterpay, BigCommerce and Marsello. It provides useful resources, free and heavily discounted software and support to help retailers adapt to the current climate and run their business smoothly both today and in the upcoming retail spring.
Despite aspects of our lives beginning to return to normal, it’s important to remain cautious, considered and safe as you look to reopen your retail doors. Ensuring you’re prepared early, and have all the necessary technology and health and safety measures in place, will allow you to be certain that once your store is reopened for business, your customers will feel right at home, once more.
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