COVID-19: Store Reopening Resource Guide

We know you have a lot to do to reopen stores and relaunch your operations. We also know you don’t have a lot of time. While you may be excited to reopen, you may feel overwhelmed by all the steps you need to take to do so safely. So we have put together this Store Reopening Resource Guide to give you quick access to helpful sources and expert best practice tips.

Helpful Websites

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To begin, it can be helpful to follow the examples of others. Some major retailers are sharing their plans and best practices for reopening:

Example photo from Target's Store Reopening Resource Guide
Photo credit:

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) authored several store reopening resources guides. Also, they have printable PDFs related to sanitation and safety:

Always confirm reopening timelines and procedures with your local governing authorities. The Nation Retail Federation (NFR) has a collection of links so retailers can access updated state information about COVID-19 by state.

The National Restaurant Association has put together a resource center for COVID-19 recovery and reopening. This includes FAQs, a food safety guide, and a store reopening guide. additionally, if you opt into their email list, you will receive automatic updates as COVID-19 reopening evolves.

The US Department of Labor and OSHA have comprehensive COVID-19 store reopening resource guides. Here, topics are broken down by industry, including control and prevention for retail. Importantly, resources are available in English and Spanish.

Finally, check out our recent blog, 8 Steps to Reopen Stores Successfully, for more tips to help you get up and running.


The basics of reopening include making sure your stores are physically sound and safe for employees and customers. Confirm utilities are working, including the phone and the internet. Ensure heat, air conditioning, music, and lighting are ready. Next, test and update the maintenance of your large equipment. For instance, if forklifts, ovens, or automotive lifts have been sitting unused for weeks, don’t open your doors until you are sure all equipment is in good working order. Finally, update and distribute new policies.

Moreover, it is a good idea to assign tasks or request inspections as you reboot store equipment and reopen stores. Attach best practice photos and recommendations to remind or educate your teams about proper protocols. This is especially helpful for new health and safety policies.

reopening Checklists

For more checklists, see our blog:

Connecting with customers

When it comes to crisis situations, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) recommends communicating with customers regularly and often. Above all, communication should focus on what is important to the customer (like enhanced cleaning procedures). It should also be personal.

For instance, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson sent a letter to customers. Johnson outlines the steps Starbucks is taking to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the health and safety of partners (employees) and customers.

Customer Communication Resources

  • COVID-19 Messaging: Dos and Don’ts by Meredith Klee for AdRoll. This is a comprehensive list of messaging best practices to follow when reaching out to customers. Further, AdRoll produced a webinar to help you address your customers and evolve your messaging.
  • A Seller’s Guide to Building a Community by Chris Guillot of Merchant Method and Jenn Magofna of Sendle. In this Instagram video Guillot and Magofna talk about how you can upgrade your marketing strategy to build community with your customers. For example, they discuss how to moderate unwelcome comments and nurture new relationships.
  • Reopening Retail Stores – Tell Shoppers What’s Changed Before Arrival by Bob Phibbs. “The Retail Doctor” provides recommendations for reaching out to your customers to calm any fears and encourage them to return to your stores.
  • Moving beyond basic messaging is key for creating a sense of community and keeping customers actively engaged with your brand. Closing the Social Distance by Shuang Esther Shan for Shopify. Helpfully, she gives real world examples of businesses successfully connecting with customers during COVID-19.
  • Can you make a genuine connection with customers while wearing a mask? In a recent blog for Retail Customer Experience, Liz Cichowski discusses making authentic connections while maintaining social distance and mask protocols. See Selling Behind a Mask: Connecting While Social Distancing.
  • If your customer base is made up of Millennials and Gen-Z see Millennial and Gen Z Trust in a Newly Reopened World by Jasmine Glasheen for the Robin Report. Glasheen details what matters most to these two groups to help you craft your messaging.
  • Finally, 5 Ways to Support Employees and Customers During COVID-19 details how to manage health and safety concerns and communicate updates.

Selling and Driving Foot Traffic

In the past you may have held special in-store events, offered free beverages, or allowed customers to physically interact with your products to drive foot-traffic and sales. However, most of these activities are no longer an option. Still, with a little creativity, you can find new ways to interact with your customers so you can drive traffic and boost sales.

Boosting Foot traffic Resources

  • 5 Ways to Drive Foot Traffic in a Post-COVID-19 World by Francesca Nicasio for Vend. Nicasio breaks down easy ways to attract shoppers with examples to help you implement these tips in your stores. For instance, she highlights Nordstrom’s upbeat video which details health and safety precautions in place and encourages customers to return to their stores.


Employees and franchisees will be looking to you for leadership as stores reopen and they return to their jobs. Above all they need to know you care about their well being and are taking the steps to keep them safe on the job. Additionally, they want to see that you have plans in place to help them transition back to work.

The need to plan for recalling employees must go beyond the initial transition back to work. As NRF observes, this includes planning for situations likely to arise after employees return and franchisees reopen their stores. So plan ahead to stay on top of reopening.

Employment and Leadership Resources

Fulfillment Services

BOPIS sign Store Reopening Resource Guide Shutter stock

How consumers are currently interacting with retailers will continue to influence their future behavior. With social distancing measures in place and limitations on the number of people who can be in stores, consumers are turning to alternative fulfillment strategies. These include buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS), curb-side pick-up, and home delivery.

McKinsey and Company argues, “These new engagement models are here to stay. Consumers report high intention to continue using models such as BOPIS (56%) and grocery delivery (45%) after the pandemic.”

The good news is fulfillment trends have been changing for some time so there are numerous resources to help you implement BOPIS, curbside pickup, and expand your local at home delivery options. Since these trends will be sticking around, investing now in hybrid fulfillment models is one way to future-proof your retail business.

Fullfillment RESOURCES for Reopening stores

New Technologyto help Reopen Stores

Covid-19 may have given you the opportunity to review your operating processes and see where you need to optimize. You may also be expected to do more with less staff in the coming days. Moreover, introducing new technology can help your store reopenings go more smoothly. Likewise, doing away with antiquated and laborious processes can help you become more nimble and work more efficiently in the days ahead.

Techonology and Reopening Resources

What’s Next for Retail After Reopening

Retail is forever changed by COVID-19. What Store Reopening Resource Guide would be complete without some resources to help you plan for the future? As you think about what is next, here are resources to help identify trends so you can you pivot your operations and offerings for retail after COVID-19.

Retail Trends and Store Reopening Resources

Helping Others

Accessory retailer Rothy’s has initiated the Open Invitation Coalition. With the goal to help 1 million people, Rothy’s is uniting with like minded brands to produce relief items. The coalition is open to retailers to join to support COVID-19 relief efforts.

Is there a reopening resource you have found helpful to get your store up and running? Please share in the comments.

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