The culture of shopping has changed. As government guidelines continue to adapt to scientific advice and customers remain particularly cautious of spreading the COVID-19 virus, even the simple act of pulling an item off of the shelf becomes more complicated. Store staff are also put under greater pressure as they are prompted to enforce safety guidelines, directing customers to wear masks and maintain appropriate distances, all while maintaining high standards of cleanliness.
At the beginning of the lockdown, there was a considerable reservation that physical stores would see a quick return of custom if any at all. However, as some shops have discovered, the demand is there and high street staple Primark made headlines with long queues on the day they first reopened.
The trouble stores are facing, however, is financial. Many retailers have been unable to weather the lockdown losses, even with government support. As such, there is much greater caution and frugality among shop owners, who are trying to return to regular operations as quickly as possible to maintain a necessary level of income.
Clarity for Efficiency
As social distancing guidelines are followed, it becomes more difficult to maintain the same occupancy within stores. This means that to achieve the same level of income, a faster level of turnover needs to be reached. Retailers will know that part of their value on the high street is that they allow customers time to browse, creating spaces that encourage people to stay in the store. Without compromising that, they must, instead, design their stores with clarity for them to be efficient.
Depending on the guidelines in place, ensure that posters and floor markings are clear and easily understood. Make sure all staff are ready to help the process and inform customers on your process. Doing so will help people to feel comfortable, safe, and prevent time-spent in confusion or causing disruption.
Review Your Safety
During a time of financial caution, not only should retailers try to stabilise and increase their income, but they should also act to prevent risk and losses. And, as layouts and shopping habits change, the resulting confusion is more likely to create issues of risk.
Now is the time to review and expand your store’s risk assessment, covering all aspects, such as a carbon monoxide detector and fire door survey. Ensure that the risk assessment matches and incorporate new potential risks too as outlined by governmental regulation. Not only will this help prevent your business during difficult times, but a better understanding of guidelines will protect you in future too.
Communicate With Your Customers
Social media has been, for better or worse, an increasingly important asset for retailers. It not only allows them to inform their customers about offers but it also allows a business to accept feedback and understand issues shoppers may be facing. During the lockdown, many businesses, especially small and local businesses, have found communities rallying around them to support their survival. Engaging with your community on social media, both directly and honestly, has proven to be well-received and even to earn great custom as shoppers continue to seek out brands that they feel they can trust, wanting to align themselves with positive brands.