Following the recent announcement of the governments roadmap out of Lockdown and the publication of the latest advice on restrictions, the retail sector is busy preparing to be back open for business and ready to welcome customers for the first time in twelve months. All non-essential retailers in the UK, including clothing, home goods and electrics, and department stores are scheduled to re-open from 12th April 2021.

Upon opening your doors and finally welcoming back customers, the implementation of essential measures such as social distancing procedures, separate points for entry and exit, hand-sanitising stations, and health and safety training, should be carefully considered. But worry not – we have put together a guide to help you get ready to put your best foot forward and ensure your retail business can re-open as effectively as possible.

Create a COVID secure space for your customers

One of the most effective things you can do to ensure that your store is COVID secure is to find out how many customers you can realistically accommodate at any time. Ensuring that you have enough space to allow for a social distance of 2 metres between all staff and customers remains of the highest importance.

Measuring the size and considering the layout of your retail space will help to figure out the maximum number of customers that can be accommodated safely. Clear signage and, depending on the size of your business, a member of staff to monitor the number of customers entering and leaving your store are a great way to create a safe space.

Closing off excess entrance points is also a great way to keep on top of the number of customers inside your store at any one time.

Introducing more hand sanitising stations – especially at the entrance and exit of the store – and reducing the need for physical interaction is also a great way to make sure your customers feel safe when shopping with you. Make sure you can accept card payments – and even encourage this payment method over cash to reduce the risk of contamination.

Ensure your staff are properly prepared

Working out the right staffing levels for the number of customers allowed in-store might be a little complicated at first but ensuring that your store is not overcrowded will be vital to making your customers feel safe. This will mean that you should minimise the number of staff on-site whenever possible.

Integrating your POS system with a tool like Deputy can help you to take the guesswork out of staff scheduling by using your projected sales and foot traffic to work out your optimum staffing levels, ensuring that you only have essential employees on site when needed.

Training your staff on social distancing, and other measures that you may have introduced to help keep your store COVID secure, will also be crucial. Ensuring that all your staff members are made aware of any changes you have introduced, including caps on customer numbers and queueing procedures will help to ensure a smooth re-opening.

Give your customers the option to shop online

While being able to re-open your store is great, launching an online store would help you to reach customers who may not be quite ready to venture out. Setting up an e-commerce store or integrating your current site will allow you to serve more customers more safely.

Being able to adapt to circumstances throughout the pandemic has been crucial for businesses, and expanding your online offering is a great way to do that. As well as offering delivery for your customers, your e-commerce platform can work with your retail site to offer click & collect.

We can help you to create an online store with any of our e-commerce partners such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce.

Get to grips with your stock

While effective management of your inventory is important at any time, re-opening your store after a long closure makes this more important than ever.

With less than two weeks until stores can finally begin re-opening (if everything goes to plan), it is essential to get a clear view of the stock you already have, and what you may need to restock – this will help to ensure an effective re-opening.

Our real-time stock control service, with smart inventory management and sales reports, will help to identify your best-selling products. This allows you to increase your levels of any in-demand products, ready to welcome customers back. Reports can also identify products that aren’t selling so well, helping you to make important decision about discounting and stocking.

Communication is key

The past year has been extremely confusing for everyone, with guidelines and lockdown measures changing so often. This means that clear communication with your customers has never been more important.

While preparing to re-open your store, make sure that your existing, and potentially new customers know your plan for opening days and hours, as well as about any COVID-secure measures you are introducing.

Staying in touch with your customers throughout the year can also help with sale order processing, and invoice control, in addition to presenting opportunities for up-selling and customer-specific pricing.