Jarrad Lawford 12 May - 6 min read
Thankfully here in Australia, we’re handling the COVID-19 pandemic incredibly well and there is now a visible sign of the light at the end of the restriction tunnel, with a planned restoration of all businesses opening by July.
Many retail businesses will soon be getting permission to resume operations and open their doors to the public on May 18, following our national cabinet’s recent three-step plan to lifting Coronavirus restrictions.
Depending on the individual decisions from our state and territory leaders, this includes retailers and small cafes, gyms, libraries, galleries, beauty therapists, and real estate agencies.
Social distancing guidelines and limits to patrons in-store will remain in place for now, with a maximum of 10 customers in retail stores at a time.
While it’s exciting news, preparing your store to reopen is something that should be planned sooner rather than later.
We want you to be able to hit the ground running, so we’ve created a list of tips to help your business go pedal to the metal once you hear ready-steady-go.
The timing and details behind reopening our economy will differ between states, territories, and regions. A great source to check for up-to-date requirements for your business is in the Australian Federal Government’s resource. This includes the latest three-step plan and details on the CovidSafe App.
2. Prepare Your Employees
Teamwork makes the dream work. Having all of your employees on the same page is a safe and beneficial way to ensure a smooth transition back to a regular working environment. Here are some good preparational measures for your employees.
Notify staff members. If your business shifted to a takeaway or working-from-home style environment for the last couple of months your staff may find themselves a bit rusty returning to a regular and structured working environment. Get in touch with your team and go over what’s expected now that retailers are soon to reopen and provide them with any resources they need to get back on track fast. This could be extra cleaning supplies, more rotations, new software, or supportive guidelines.
When your staff return, keep health and safety within your business at the forefront of their minds with hygiene and social distancing measures. Even if business operations return, our social distancing guidelines may be in place for many months, so try to enforce these new policies.
Signage, verbal reminders, or simple written materials in your store and bathrooms lets your customers know you take protecting their health seriously.
Having a staff member monitor the maximum limit of 10 patrons in stores at a time is also a wise necessity to include.
Support the mental and physical health of your staff. Checking they are available and healthy enough to work is one thing, but making sure they are mentally and physically comfortable is just as important.
While providing mental support for your staff is essential, if they are feeling unwell, make sure you play it safe and let them rest and fully recover before they return.
Providing your employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as facemasks or gloves will also bring peace of mind for staff and customers.
Adjust staff hours. Long hours, especially during the reopening period, may cause stress or fatigue for your team. By rotating staff frequently or shortening their workload you allow your employees more flexibility to rest between shifts as they gradually build up to regular working routines.
Sharing is caring. Once you’ve determined which staff members are willing and able to return to work, planning out and distributing rosters accordingly with plenty of notice keeps your staff in the loop.
Having your shop stocked with the correct amount of merchandise helps lay the foundations for a successful return to business. Not having enough inventory items or too much on hand can lead to frustration and loss of sale.
Count your inventory. Inventory management systems, such as SpendaStock, allow retailers to manage one or multiple warehouses with full stock control, POS integration, real-time inventory management, and complete reporting under a secure cloud backup.
These unified inventory management systems ensure discrepancies and human error is removed in stock control and enables the best possible product coordination standards for your customers.
Know Your Product & Sales Reports. This is where digital inventory management systems that update in real-time are so beneficial. Figuring out what products your customers are buying and making sure you have a ready supply will help you capatilise on fast selling products.
Check and clean your store. Most Australian businesses are playing it safe and cleaning all surfaces in their stores and supplying hand sanitizer to customers and employees, but also make sure the physical state of your store is up to scratch before opening. This includes checking leaks, faults or issues with mechanicals, inventory, hardware and software.
Get reconnected. A lot of businesses cut their electricity and water connections to save money during the lockdown. Make sure you call your services providers to get these in working order before you reopen.
Update your software. Many businesses took the opportunity during the shutdown to improve their digital capabilities with new POS or inventory management systems. Fully integrated POS systems help arm your business with the best technology available for seamless checkout experiences.
Keep customers notified. Important announcements or changes to your store policies should be displayed prominently. Most Australian retailers have signs both outside and inside stores reminding people to keep 1.5m apart. Markers have commonly been placed on the floor, particularly near the checkout counter, to let people know where to line up if possible.
Update your return and exchange policy. Having a fast and seamless return or refund processes is made a lot easier with fully integrated POS systems that track and store customer details or frequent purchases. Updating your systems prior to reopening can keep this process running smoothly and help retain customers.
Driving awareness and traffic to your business via social media channels is crucial to building excitement and interest for your reopening.
Connect your channels. A lot of retailers increased their presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube during the lockdown. Why? Because telling customers about your daily activities and providing details on upcoming promotions helps plant the seed for future sales.
Prior to your planned reopening date, make sure you reach out through your communication channels, including email, SMS, or social media to ensure shoppers don’t miss your announcements.
Run promotions. Customers might feel hesitant about running straight back to their regular pre-COVID-19 shopping routines and may need a slight push to entice them to buy. This is where your sales or promotions come in.
This tactic needs to mould with your goals, products, and sales objectives. If you have too much stock of particular items for example, then a buy-one-get-one-free offer or complimentary gift with particular purchase amounts (i.e, spend $50, get a free coupon or gift) could be a good starter.
We hope these tips help prepare your business for returning back to normal.
Need to get your business online? We set up an e-Commerce site for your business quickly and seamlessly. Email email@example.com to get started.
For any COVID-19 related questions in regards to your area, find out more via the Australian Federal Government here.
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