This pandemic is no joke. The stock market is dropping, people are staying home from major family and life events. I am sure this virus is on your mind. It’s on the minds of your employees and customers.
When faced with difficult situations it is important to focus on what you can control. The top retailers in the country are taking action to weather the fallout from this pandemic. These are the
Encourage Good Hygiene
Make sure you wash your hands. Make sure your employees wash their hands.
There is no vaccine for the coronavirus. The CDC says that the best way to prevent the virus is to prevent exposure. They recommend cleaning your hands often with soap and water.
Put in place a handwashing schedule in your store. You expect employees to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, but consider adding more structure. Encourage employees to wash their hands on breaks. Create specific handwashing breaks on a schedule.
Don’t forget about your customers. Provide your customers with hand sanitizing stations around your store. Set up hand sanitizer and small signs that encourage your customers to use it.
Increase Store Cleaning
According to NPR, studies say that the novel coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Increased cleaning is a must.
To protect your customers and employees consider increasing the frequency of cleaning.
24-hour Wal-Marts, for example, are shutting down at 11 pm to allow for thorough cleaning and restocking efforts.
Postpone Store Events and Workshops
Events and workshops are the lifeblood of retail. Pet stores have on-site vet clinics. Hardware stores host contractor days. These are revenue-generating events that are important for your store. I know it will be difficult, but consider postponing your store events.
The government is now recommending that all events of 50 people or more be postponed for the next 8 weeks.
Choosing not to hold events at your store may mean a temporary slump in your sales. But, it could help protect your community.
Enhance Store Pickup & Delivery Options
Can customers order online from your store? This is the time to encourage them to do so. If they cannot, you can still encourage them to call their order into the store and you’ll have it ready for them.
If you deliver your products to your local market, prepare to ramp up that service. Let your customers know that you will knock and leave their purchase at their doorstep. This could help lessen social contact.
Also, provide your customers with reasonable expectations of your local delivery timelines. You are likely to see a significant spike in demand.
Pets Plus Natural in Delran, NJ offers online ordering for store pick and local home delivery. They sent an email to all their customers encouraging them to buy online. Customers were instructed to call the store from the parking lot to have someone bring their store pickup order to their car.
If you offer store pickup, consider bringing your products to your customer’s car. Have your customers place their orders on your website or over the phone. When they arrive at your store bring the products to their vehicle.
Provide the details of your store pickup and delivery options on your website.
Support Sick Employees
Companies across the country are adjusting their paid time off policies to account for the impact of COVID-19.
Retail workers sometimes have little, if any, paid time off. Under normal circumstances, this may not be problematic. However, during a pandemic, it can be catastrophic. Infected individuals should not continue to interact with others at work.
Independent retailers may not always be in a financial position to provide substantial paid time off. Regardless, for the benefit of society, retailers should consider special measures for employees who are quarantined due to Coronavirus or diagnosed with the virus.
Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing is not something you either do or don’t do. There are degrees of social distancing.
For instance, at one end of the social distancing spectrum is staying home for weeks. At the other end of the spectrum is giving someone a kiss. There are many degrees of social distancing in between.
Educate your staff about the steps they can take to provide some social distance. This may include some awkward or uncomfortable choices.
Employees may be discouraged from shaking hands with customers. They may also be required to stand 6 feet away from customers or wear gloves at the checkout counter.
These measures may feel extreme but could prove extremely beneficial in reducing the impact of the virus in your community.
Communicate your plan
Finally, share information with your customers and staff.
Use social media, email marketing, and phone calls to get the word out. Tell your customers what you are doing to help keep them safe. The more informed we all are the better positioned we are to stay safe and healthy.
Your customers and employees are your friends and neighbors. We’re all in this together. We need to keep each other safe.
As a retailer, you are highly visible. You are a leader in your community. You are there to serve. That’s why people trust you.
They may need your leadership and service now more than ever.
Right now retail is about protecting the communities you serve.
Serve them well, keep them safe.