How to Shift Your Business Operations to Limit Exposure During (and After) a Pandemic 

This is a guest post by Ursula Librizzi from PayJunction.

As a retailer, you’ve likely had to scale back your operations to minimal in-person contact, moved operations completely online or maybe even totally closed shop amidst the COVID-19 restriction.

It’s hard, we know, but we’re here to give you some useful tips to implement at your business to align with best practices for limiting exposure as you continue operating or in preparation to reopen your doors. As more and more states and countries are starting to open back up, the definition of essential business is expanding, and now is the time to prepare your store for selling again and invest in the tools to keep your staff and customers safe.

The key takeaways are simple: four practices you can implement to ensure a safe environment for both staff and customers, while simultaneously keeping cash flowing in and your head above water.

1. Offer contactless perks and programs.

Loyalty rewards and digital gift cards are a great way to offer perks without the need for a physical exchange. They can all be tied to a number or a person in a customer management system; no reason to physically pass anything back and forth.

If you’re still using a card-based rewards program, now is the time to go digital. A modern loyalty solution enables you to offer perks and incentives to shoppers without having to use physical stamp cards. All you need is your customer’s name, phone number, or email and you’ll be able to track and redeem rewards with ease.

2. Communicate with customers digitally.

Now more than ever, digital communication is key to stay top-of-mind and current with customers. These communications need to happen before, during and after the sale to ensure consistency. 

Before the sale, utilizing email and SMS, such as Marsello’s email and SMS loyalty and automated marketing, will allow businesses to stay in touch with customers on special deals, reopening or phased opening dates, and even unique ways you can service your customers that maybe you’ve never done before, like curbside offerings.

During and after the sale you can utilize a customer database via your shopping cart, POS or Payment Gateway to store and send digital receipts via email that include a list of itemized goods or services purchased. This is especially useful in times like these when purchases may be made before delivery or pick up. For payments made remotely, it’s important to be able to provide digital copies of payment authorization and purchases to avoid the chance of chargebacks.

Asking for feedback is another great way to connect with customers after the sale. Use tools like Vend and Marsello to send follow-up emails inviting shoppers to rate their experience.

The feedback that you get from your customers can be incredibly insightful and enable you to improve the shopping experience even more. 

3. Limit physical touch points between staff and customers.

Whether you are currently allowing customers to come in to make purchases, or are preparing to reopen your doors, using technology to help eliminate the need for physical contact for both your staff and customers will help to minimize virus exposure and keep operations running smoothly.

For your staff who are doing inventory and restocking, using an inventory scanner app can significantly limit the number of items and devices your staff needs to touch. Vend’s Scanner app turns your iOS device into a powerful mobile barcode scanner without the need to use additional hardware. And if you’re already using Vend, you can skip manual product entry by having Scanner automatically populate your product details as you scan. Vend + Scanner sync to update counts and stock records from your device — no more manual uploads.

Cashiers can further avoid touching merchandise by utilizing quick keys for popular items and product lookup, instead of physically grabbing an item off the floor to find a SKU or price.

4. Implement contactless payment systems

Both staff and customers can feel more secure during the checkout process by utilizing payment devices that offer a zero-touch experience.  Keep in mind that many jurisdictions (like Santa Barbara and Georgia for example) are recommending this as part of their plans to reopen. What does this mean? A few things:

a) Utilize a customer-facing terminal to ensure there is no need for your cashiers to handle a customer’s card, the payment can be triggered via your POS and the customer is prompted to start payment on the terminal screen. 

b) Accept all types of payment, specifically contactless payments (think ApplePay), so a customer can simply wave their smartphone or contactless-enabled credit card over the terminal; no need to insert or swipe a card and touch the device.

c) Disable receipt and signature prompts on the terminal. Signatures are no longer a requirement so long as you use EMV-enabled devices to process payments. Removing these steps, in combination with a contactless payment method, means the customer never touches the terminal during checkout. You can still email a receipt for their records and you’ll automatically get a digital copy, so long as you are using a capable, integrated payments system.

With reopening plans and government guidance being published every day, it’s important to make sure you are prepared to function in the “new norm” to come, which means adopting more digital operations and communications with your staff and customers.

Vend Tip

If you’re looking to deploy a contactless payment solution in your store, Payjunction has been working closely with essential businesses to develop a solution that keeps staff and customers safe, while keeping sales ringing. Reduce virus exposure with a zero touch terminal that integrates directly with Vend. 

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About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.