Recent months have presented an extraordinary challenge for small retailers via a global pandemic that few could’ve comprehended and even fewer could’ve prepared for. But light is appearing at the end of the tunnel. As Australia tentatively and carefully reopens, retailers should be planning for how they’ll approach the post-lockdown retail landscape.
Not only are states reopening at varying speeds, the guidelines and restrictions they’re implementing differ, too. Rather than second-guessing when or if you’re free to reopen, and what you must do if you are, confirm with your state authority. If you’re free to reopen, before you rush to take down the ‘closed’ sign there are a few things to prepare so you can deliver the best possible service when your customers return.
The hallmark of great independent retailers is beautiful customer experiences. Without your staff, though, you can’t possibly deliver that. When arranging for your team’s return, it’s important to find out who is available and comfortable to return, especially if they’re a little scattered geographically. Things are changing quickly so ideally use a cloud-based system to communicate with them, so you can quickly and easily update them simultaneously.
If your store was closed or you were selling online, chances are your stock isn’t all in one place. Conduct an inventory count to get a handle on what you have, where it is and that it’s logged on your stock control system. Decide what items to sell and promote by running performance reports that determine the products that may have the greatest demand when things reopen. It’s likely, too, that some of your overseas suppliers might not be able to deliver new stock in a timely manner,
So that your store runs smoothly, ensure that all your services, supplies, and technologies are up and running. Confirm that utilities such as electricity, water and WiFi are working and reinstate any that were disconnected. Make sure your POS and retail management systems are good to go.
While restrictions are easing, it’s still important to exercise care and protect your staff and customers. Display signage that outlines any guidelines or policies and consider adding markers or decals on your floor, particularly near the checkout, so people know where to stand. Clean shelves, racks and other surfaces often and make protective supplies like hand sanitiser readily available so everyone feels. You may also want to limit the number of people allowed in store, accept only contactless forms of payment and even limit access to fitting rooms.
Perhaps most importantly, spread the word and drive awareness to your store when you re-open. Communicate with your customers through any means possible. Whether it’s window signs, email marketing or messages across your social media or eCommerce store, be loud and proud in letting people know you’re back and what they can expect from your business.
We don’t have a crystal ball, so can’t say exactly when the “new normal” will begin too feel normal, but a little preparation could go a long way in ensuring that you’re ready and raring to go at the dawn of the retail spring.
Dave Scheine, Managing Director for APAC, Vend