The unprecedented situation caused by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic is resulting in equally as unprecedented measures by businesses – particularly retailers – to deal with it. On the one hand there are countless health and safety procedures and processes they need to put into place to provide for the welfare and comfort of shoppers. That’s contrasted by the business tactics retailers are embracing to continue to operate even marginally profitable operations.
It’s a delicate balance but the experts agree there are several basic measures retailers should be adapting as they reopen. Here are five key ones.
- Make the store environment safe. Retailers should have a regular sanitizing procedure in place following the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, particularly for merchandise on display that is handled in the course of the shopping process. Sanitizing stations should be located at store entrances and around merchandise displays. Employees should wear masks at all times and have them available for those customers who request one. Temperature-taking procedures can also be put into place.
- Shopping by appointment. Depending on the format and make-up of your store, you should consider having shopping done by appointment. This doesn’t necessarily mean complicated booking processes. Some stores are asking customers to wait just outside the front door until an employee is available and can escort them in. This controls the head count in the store but also provides for a one-on-one shopping process.
- Curbside pick-up. It’s a technique supermarkets are using with great effect but it also works for general merchandise. Again, you don’t need an elaborate physical set-up: a simple table, signage and perhaps a tent or canopy in the parking lot does the trick and relieves a lot of social distancing tension.
- Edit your merchandise mix. It may seem counterintuitive but some are suggesting that as a way to open up the store and allow for more space for distancing, retailers trim the amount of goods on their selling floor. You know your best sellers and can still sell from catalogs or online pages and it’s a way for a retailer to better control its selling environment.
- You must have e-commerce. It can be an expensive proposition if you’re starting from scratch but the ability of every retailer regardless of their size and product category is no longer optional. E-com sales may account for as much as a quarter of all retail revenue when this settles down. You cannot afford to walk away from that business.