By Erica Houskeeper on June 23, 2020
Small businesses are reopening across the country. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect much of the United States, employers are making necessary adjustments for the health and safety of their employees and customers. Merchants are also trying to find ways to attract customers and get back on their feet.
During the reopening transition, business owners must not only assess current policies but establish new ones as well. That means developing a protocol to limit the spread of COVID-19 and determining how to respond if an employee contracts COVID-19. In addition, employers should plan for how to respond to staff who are in vulnerable populations or are fearful of returning to work.
The National Retail Federation is offering guidance for merchants who are reopening stores with an Operation Open Doors Checklist, which follows CDC recommendations. Here are suggestions to keep your employees and customers safe, as well as tips to help your business be up and running.
Promote “Contactless” Shopping Options
- Offer online shopping to customers
- Offer contactless payment options, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Play, etc.
- Set up virtual terminals or self-checkout.
- Offer pickup and delivery services to customers.
Determine Business Hours
- Adjust store hours of operation, as necessary, to support social distancing efforts by limiting store traffic.
- Be sure employees have enough time to rest, sanitize, and restock inventory.
- Consider offering seniors and other high-risk individuals exclusive early hours.
- Consider increasing pick-up hours to serve more online customers.
Implement Social Distancing Measures
- Place signage in visible locations throughout the store, particularly high-traffic areas, such as entrances, exits, checkout counters, and fitting rooms.
- Encourage or require employees and customers to wear approved facial coverings, gloves, and personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, if possible.
- Offer face masks and/or PPE to customers who enter the store without one.
Establish Protocol for Vendors & Non-Employees
- Notify vendors of reopening, and any revised protocol regarding store entry, deliveries, paperwork, etc.
- Transition to contactless signatures / e-signatures for deliveries.
- Adjust store delivery windows to spread out deliveries.
- Request that vendors accessing your store locations to direct their employees to follow all social distancing guidelines and health directives.
Cleaning and Sanitization
- Use cleaning products that are on the EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.
- Cleaning kits, including disinfectant wipes or sprays, disposable gloves, paper towels, masks, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies. These supplies should be readily accessible throughout the store at point-of-sale terminals and other stations that will be cleaned periodically throughout the day.
- Implement a rigorous cleaning schedule that targets high touch surfaces and spaces, such as door handles, shopping carts, PIN pads, restrooms, light switches, and sinks and faucets.
- Be sure hand sanitizer is available throughout store for customers and employee to use, including at store entrances and checkout areas.
- Communicate social distancing guidelines and expectations.
- Instruct employees how to monitor personal health and body temperature at home.
- Employees should know how to properly wear, remove, and dispose of face masks and PPE.
- Instruct employees on how to launder cloth face masks and uniforms.
- Staff should know cleaning protocol, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies
- Conduct a physical stock count to determine what you have on-hand in the store. This will help you determine that what you have on file matches the actual items you have in your store or stockroom.
- Mobile credit card terminals such as Payanywhere offer barcode scanners that can make this job easy.
Run Product and Sales Reports
- You can figure out what items to sell and promote by running product performance reports. While pre-COVID data may not provide an accurate picture of what’s happening today, reviewing what people were purchasing this time last year could help, especially when combined with online search trends and social media listening data.
Marketing and Promotions
- Let your customers know you’re reopening! Utilize email, social media, and SMS to get the word out about your opening date, business hours, promotions, and more.
- Once you’re open, an effective way to get customers into your store is by offering specials and promotions. Try a “buy one, get one free” special to move inventory, or a “spend $100 and get a free gift” promotion to increase ticket sizes. Figuring out the right offer will ultimately depend on your sales objectives.
Reopening your business will require extra work, but taking the right measures to reopen safely will be well worth the effort for your employees and customers.
Learn how Sekure can help your business. Visit our COVID-19 Merchant Resources page to help you stay open and #StaySekure.