Retailers all over the world are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic differently, depending on their country, state, and city. Some stores may be on the path to resuming their operations, while others, not so much.
But regardless of where you are, preparing for your store’s reopening should be done sooner rather than later.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of action steps to take before you open your doors again.
Have a look below.
Confirm with local authorities
The timing and manner of reopening the economy will vary from one location to the next. Some may do it slowly by only allowing certain types of businesses to reopen. Be sure to confirm with your local government to make sure that your business is in the clear.
□ Check with your local government. Visit their website or give them a call to determine whether your store can do business again. Confirm any dates as well as the measures you need to comply with.
□ Gather resources, checklists from your county or city. Some governments may offer checklists, signage, and other resources that you can use. Take advantage of these things if they’re available.
Prepare your employees
Next up, you need to prep your team and ensure that your staff is staffed for your reopening. Here’s what you need to do:
□ Identify staff members that you will bring on board. List the employees that you need in your stores and get in touch with them.
□ Confirm that they’re in good health to work. See to it that they’re available and healthy enough to work.
□ Schedule and distribute their upcoming shifts. Once you know who’s willing and able to go back to work, map out their schedules and distribute (ideally using a cloud-based system) so everyone is on the same page.
□ Include health and safety talking points in your daily huddles. Keep health and safety top of mind by constantly reminding your team on the importance of proper hygiene and social distancing. If you’re implementing new policies in-store, always remind your team to enforce them.
□ Post signage at time clocks, in employee break rooms, and in restrooms. In addition to verbal reminders, written materials can ensure that your team prioritizes health and safety in your store.
Get your inventory ready
Physical goods are the bread and butter of any retail business, so you want your shop to be stocked with the right merch.
□ Conduct an inventory count. Get a handle on what you have on-hand by conducting a physical stock count. You want to ensure that what you have on paper (or in your stock control system) matches the actual items you have in your store or stockroom.
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.
□ Run the necessary product and sales reports. Figure out what items to sell and promote by running product performance reportings. Admittedly, historical data may not be as helpful, given the massive shift in consumer spending, but looking at what people were purchasing this time last year (and perhaps what they were buying pre-lockdown) could help, particularly when combined with:’
- Online search trends
- Social media listening data
Vend has powerful reporting tools that give you a handle on your inventory and business as a whole. Customize your sales reports to easily see how your stores are performing and what products are making you the most money. Use a wide range of variables and filters to get to the bottom of things, and help you identify trends or problem areas that need attention.
Prepare necessary your equipment, supplies, and technologies
To ensure that your store runs smoothly, make sure that all the required services, supplies, and technologies are up and running. Here’s a quick list of what to go over before you reopen your store:
□ Check that your physical location is good to go. Inspect your physical store to ensure that it’s safe for reopening. Did anything go amiss while you were away? Things like damages to the property or signs of forced entry require immediate action. If there are any issues, call your landlord ASAP.
□ Confirm that the utilities are working. If your electricity and water connection were disconnected, call the utility companies to ensure that they’re in working order before you reopen.
□ Don’t forget about the phone and internet. The same thing goes for your phone and internet connection, as it’s more important than ever to stay connected.
□ See to it that your security equipment is up to snuff. Test your security system (cameras, alarms, etc.) to ensure that they’re in working order.
□ Make sure your POS and retail management systems are good to go. You need to be able to ring up sales and serve customers efficiently, and your business needs to be armed with a working POS to do that.
If you put your Vend account on-ice because of COVID-19, now is a good time to reactivate your subscription. It takes just a few minutes to reactivate to do this. Just sign-in to your Vend store and follow the prompts to reactivate.
□ Double-check other gadgets and equipment. If you have in-store tablets, TVs, displays, sound systems, etc., confirm that they’re in working condition and are ready for your grand reopening.
□ Set up your displays. Revamp your in-store and window displays with attractive arrangements. Bear in mind that with social distancing, you may need to position your store fixtures and shelves farther apart to encourage people to stay at least 6 feet away from each other.
Implement post-COVID-19 health and safety measures
Take steps to protect your staff and customers when you reopen your store. Here are some ideas.
□ Display signage outside the store. Set up signs at the entrance reminding customers to go home if they are feeling sick. Other important announcements — such as changes to your policies must also be displayed prominently,
□ Have in-store signage reminding people about physical distancing. In-store, have signs reminding people to keep their distance. Consider adding markers or decals on your floor, particularly near the checkout counter, so people know where to stand in line.
□ Arm your employees with protective equipment like masks and gloves. Give your employees personal protective equipment so they can limit the chances of catching the illness.
□ Install plexiglass at the checkout counter. If possible, set up plexiglass at the checkout area to protect cashiers as they ring up sales.
□ In-store audio messages. If you’re able to make in-store audio announcements, record reminders about physical distancing and hygiene every 15-30 minutes to keep people vigilant about staying safe and healthy.
□ Increase the availability of hand sanitizers and wipes. If possible, give customers hand sanitizers and wipes so they can clean their hands, baskets, and shopping carts. If access to these cleaning supplies is limited, designate an employee who can regularly clean carts and baskets after customers use them.
□ Frequently clean high-touch areas. Speaking of which, double down on cleaning and sanitizing your store by frequently wiping down shelves, displays, and high-touch areas.
□ Consider modifying your return and exchange policy. You may want to spend returns and exchanges for the time being.
□ Limit guest capacity in-store. Keep your store from being too crowded by limiting the number of people who can come in at any given time.
□ Limit access to fitting rooms. If you sell apparel and accessories, you may also need to close some of your fitting rooms to promote physical distancing.
□ Adjust store hours. Long hours, particularly during this period, can cause stress in your team. Consider shortening the hours that your store is open to the public to give your staff time to clean, replenish stock, and rest.
Get the word out
Next up, you need to drive awareness and traffic to your store when you re-open. A big part of doing this lies in communicating with your customers.
□ Cover your bases with customer comms. Tell people that you’re open, what you’ve been up to, and why they should come back. Utilize multiple communication channels, including email, SMS, and social media to make sure that shoppers don’t miss your announcements.
Have you checked out Marsello? It’s a loyalty and marketing automation tool that makes it easy to create personalized campaigns. With Marsello, you can send targeted emails and SMS messages based on each customer’s behavior, purchase history, and brand interactions, so messages will resonate more with shoppers.
□ Run promotions. Your customers may need an extra push to get them to buy, and this is where promotions come in. The right offer depends on your products and sales objectives. If you’re trying to move surplus stock, for example, then a BOGO offer or free gift (of the extra stock) could be a good way to go. If the main goal is to increase basket or ticket sizes, then you’ll want to explore “spend and save” or “spend and get” promotions (e.g., Spend $100 get a free gift).
Vend makes it easy to run all kinds of offers. Our built-in Promotions enable you to easily run in-store discounts and sales and our powerful reports let you track how they perform. Promotions let you set up offers on all or selected products, in just a few simple clicks — without the need for spreadsheets or manual uploads.
Plus, live promotions automatically update to include relevant products, customers, or outlets as they’re added into Vend.
Spring is coming
No one has an exact timeline on when exactly spring will arrive, but it’s never too early to prepare (or at least to start thinking about what you’ll do when the pandemic passes). Follow the steps in this article and use it to guide your efforts as you gear up for the grand reopening of your business.
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+.