Most retailers have been closed to walk-in customers for over a month due to the efforts to flatten the curve and mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.
Some essential retail and service providers have retained a skeleton staff to handle online orders and curbside delivery, but the majority have furloughed or laid off most of their employees. Yet, the process of re-opening the economy may begin soon. Some states plan to offer guidance on reopening within the next couple of weeks.
Will you be ready to reopen your store to the public when the time comes?
What does reopening a store to the public mean for retailers in light of the COVID-19 shutdown?
What changes will your store have to make in order to comply with new laws, or to simply ensure the safest retail environment for your customers and employees? Will you have to install plastic shields at your checkout counters to protect your employees? Will your store have to initiate a customer capacity limit to enable shoppers to maintain a safe distance from each other? Will your store continue (or begin) to make orders available for curbside pick-up? How will your team minimize personal contact? What merchandising fixtures and personal protection equipment will be required to implement new workflows and processes? Will your store be able to get what it needs in time for re-opening, or will you face shortages that could delay your reopening and the return to pre-pandemic revenue and profitability?
To address these challenges, retailers need a reopening plan that can answer the following questions:
- What must your store do to ensure your employees are safe when they return to work?
- What must your store do to ensure your customers are safe when they enter the establishment?
- What operational changes are necessary within your store to help protect employee and customer safety while returning your business to profitability?
The answers to these questions depend on a combination of logistics and tools.
From an operational perspective, your retail store should anticipate a continuation of social distancing whether imposed by law or by skittish shoppers. To address these rules and concerns, your store may need to limit the number of customers in your store at one time, ensure waiting customers keep a safe distance from each other, and even dictate the traffic flow patterns of shoppers (e.g., one-way aisles). You should also consider the possibility that curbside delivery will continue or even expand during the initial reopening period. To make this work, many retailers will need new or enhanced fixtures to ensure employee and customer safety and efficient operations.
Unfortunately, if your store waits until the last minute to order these retail fixtures they may not be readily available because of the high demand.
We’re all too familiar shortages caused by the pandemic (seriously, who is hoarding all the toilet paper??). In order to resume business as quickly and effectively as possible, retailers like you must act now. Get your orders placed now for fixtures you are likely to need when you reopen to the public.
We’re already beginning to see shortages in some thicknesses of the acrylic sheeting required to make counter screens and checkout shields. It’s not unreasonable to assume there will be similar shortages in other high-value fixtures, like mobile carts used to facilitate staging and curbside checkout, floor stickers that help customers maintain proper social distancing, gondola sign holders for directing in-store customers to new shopping and checkout traffic patterns that minimize social contact, hands-free door pulls, specialized cleaning services, and shelf and floor-mounted hand sanitizer stations. With fixtures like these examples and others, you can return your store to profitability as soon as possible while ensuring the safety of your employees and customers while maintaining compliance with your state’s laws and mandates.
Now is the time for strategic planning and proactive action to get your store ready for successfully reopening after the sacrifices you’ve made to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 caused by the Coronavirus. Reach out to Midwest Retail Services and let us help you reduce the potential obstacles and costly delays in providing your store with the retail fixtures and merchandising accessories you need to return your store to its former financial health and role in serving your community.