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.
To begin, it can be helpful to follow the examples of others. Some major retailers are sharing their plans and best practices for reopening:
- Sharing What We’ve Learned: A Blueprint for Business by Kroger. This guide has insights, suggestions, and printable signage to help your navigate the path to reopening.
- Safe Retail by Target. The retailer shares ways to prioritize health and safety in response to the fast-changing conditions presented by COVID-19. This store reopening resource guide includes examples.
- The UPS Store has 6 pre-made signage templates in a variety of sizes for window posters, sidewalk boards, or counter messaging.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) authored several store reopening resources guides. Also, they have printable PDFs related to sanitation and safety:
- Reopening Guide for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Decision Tool
- Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting
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.
- Store Reopening Checklists
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Checklist for Retail
- Visual Merchandising Checklist
- Store Operations Checklist
- Loss Prevention Checklist
- Health and Safety
For more checklists, see our blog: https://blog.compliantia.com/category/checklists/
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.
- 5 Ways to Make Your Store VISIBLE During COVID-19 Shutdown by business experts Kizer and Bender. In this blog they explain how you can stay front and center in your customer’s minds and keep selling.
- Retail Ready: Setting Your Sales Floor to Sell! and Retail During & After COVID-19: Things to Think About When Planning to Reopen are both part of Kizer and Bender’s regular webinar series. Importantly, both webinars have tips and sales strategies so you can make the most of your retail space and optimize your merchandising for reopening.
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
- The “Employment” section of NRF’s Open Doors Checklist has steps for planning, suggestions for policy updates, and how to handle refusals to work.
- Lead Your Team Into a Post-Pandemic World by Hubert Joly. Joly was the Executive Chairman and former CEO of Best Buy, for HBR. This article details how to effectively lead your team during the reopening phase and the post-COVID phase.
- 11 Tips to be a Better Retail Store Manager gives tips to help you level-up your leadership game and improve as a store manager.
- Communicating with Franchisees During a Crisis notes that franchises are particularly vulnerable as they may be new to business ownership. Here are 4 tips for communicating with franchisees to help them navigate this uncertain period.
- Retail Employee Engagement and COVID-19: Getting Back to Work by retail expert Liz Cichowsik for Retail Customer Experience. Cichowisk helps you think through your reopening hiring and communication plan.
- COVID-19 Store Operations: Employee Health & Safety Q&A with the CDC by Kizer & Bender gives expert answers to your questions. This includes what to do if an employees suspects they have COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive.
- In addition, companies like Starbucks and McDonalds are testing employees for symptoms before shifts begin. Here is a short Employee Wellness Checklist to help you do the same.
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
- Boost your Business with These Curbside Pickup Best Practices by the Better Business Bureau lays out best practices for businesses looking to implement curbside pickup.
- Think Tank: How Retails Can Develop a More Sustainable BOPIS Strategy by KC Fox for WWD details the common mistakes and the what you need to do for a successful execution.
- Managing Coronavirus Impact: How Technology Helps Businesses in the Wave of Omnichannel-to-Single Channel Disruption by Dipesh Hinduja for Retail Minded gives examples of technology that can help retailers implement BOPIS.
- How to Kickstart your Retail Business Post Lockdown by Simon Perkins for Independent Retailer includes some helpful best practice tips for last-mile logistics.
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
- The Reality of Reopening: How Technology is Enabling the Reopening of Brick-And-Mortar Retail is a one hour webinar by Perch. It discusses technologies that can facilitate safe reopenings. However, you are required to submit your email to register.
- How to Implement New Technologies in Your Retail Business tells you how to roll-out new technology effectively across your stores.
- How to Communicate Policy Changes details how a convenience store chain utilized Compliant IA’s task management solution to effectively communicate and execute COVID-19 policy changes across 700+ locations.
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
- Retail Pivots: 5 Ways that Stores Have Adapted to the Changing Retail Landscape by Francesca Nicasio for VEND, offers 5 ideas for pivoting into the new world.
- Preparing For The Next Era of Retail: How To Succeed In a World Without COVID-19 by Beatriz Estay for BigCommerce breaks down consumer spending habits due to COVID-19, how retailers are responding, and preparing for post-COVID retail.
- 5 Ways COVID-19 Will Change Retail discusses five trends COVID-19 accelerated in retail.
- If you are zoned properly, considering installing a walk-up window for your store. Walk-up windows are good urbanism by Dan Malouff, a transportation planner and professor at George Washington University. Malouff makes an argument for the benefits of walk-up windows for retail businesses.
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.