Is Your Shop Ready to Re-Open? The Retailer’s Post-Lockdown Checklist
The 12th of April marks a much anticipated milestone for retailers in England: the day non-essential shops can hopefully reopen their doors to the public again.
While retailers such as convenience stores and supermarkets have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to supply consumers with essential products, government restrictions have forced those deemed “non-essential” to sit cooling their heels waiting for the day that lockdown is finally eased.
Although many retailers have embraced innovation and taken their businesses online during the lull, the impact on brick and mortar stores’ profit has been, in many cases, catastrophic, and retailers will be understandably chomping at the bit to get back out there and do what they do best: sell their products to consumers in a face-to-face setting.
With so much riding on the reopening of physical stores, it’s important that retailers get it right the first time and ensure a smooth transition so they can start boosting profits as soon as possible.
Read on below for some top tips on how to ensure your shop’s reopening is a success this April.
- Check with Your Local Authorities
The exit from lockdown will be approached differently depending on where you are in the UK, so it’s a good idea to check with your local government to see how your area plans to proceed.
Will all non-essential shops be opening at the same time, or will there be a staggered re-opening? Is there any signage or documentation you have to have displayed before you open your doors again?
Your local council should be able to answer all these questions, so make sure you check out their website or give them a call to ensure you know what procedures to follow.
- Prepare Your Staff
In many cases, your staff will have been on furlough intermittently for the last year so they will need to be fully briefed before they return to work.
Make sure you touch base with your employees before your reopening to make your expectations clear and to give them an idea of what’s to come.
This could entail anything from running carefully through Health and Safety procedures that will need to be implemented in store, to checking that your staff themselves are fit and ready to work.
Make sure you have systems in place should one of your employees fall ill and also check that you have enough staff on board to handle the reopening.
Now’s also the time to make sure schedules are drawn up and shared with your team so everybody is clear what their shift pattern will be.
- Organise your inventory
Stock is the most vital part of any retail business and needs to be checked carefully ahead of an upcoming opening.
Start off by conducting a detailed stock take of your existing inventory to make sure the products of which you have a record are still in your storeroom.
If you need to re-stock, now is the time to do it – consider using an online directory like ours at The Wholesaler UK to find suppliers and start getting those orders placed!
It’s also well worth running some product performance reports to see what items you should prioritise selling and promoting once you reopen.
Look at what your customers typically buy at this time of year – and what they were buying pre-lockdown – and combine this information with data from online search trends, in order to establish which products you should be pushing most.
- Create a Covid-Safe Space
After months spent in their houses and shopping online, some customers might find the idea of heading back to the shops an intimidating prospect.
You can put their minds at rest by ensuring that your store is a safe and hygienic place to be, with all the correct Health and Safety systems in place.
Sit down with your staff and brainstorm ideas for how to get your shop ready for re-opening. Consider drafting cleaning rotas, which mean a different member of staff every hour is responsible for disinfecting surfaces and keeping the space clean.
Also ensure that you have all Covid-safety signage clearly displayed and that you are monitoring your customers to make sure that they are maintaining social distancing measures and observing hygiene rules.
You may also want to put a capacity limit in place to prevent the shop from becoming overcrowded, or consider adjusting your opening times so staff don’t become stressed at the idea of spending a long day exposed on the shop floor.
You might want to purchase additional equipment to further protect the health of your staff and customers: consider asking staff to wear gloves, for example, or install plexiglass at the tills to shield cashiers.
Also make sure you’re stocked up on hand sanitisers and wipes so that customers are able to disinfect their hands frequently, and wipe down baskets or trolleys.
- Check technology
The last thing you want is a technical glitch on your first day back so it’s vital you check that all your technology is in good working order before you open your doors to the public again.
Start by checking the basics: is your phone line still connected and is your internet still up and running? Are your utility bills all up to date and do you have running water?
Then move onto security and ensure that all alarms and cameras are functioning correctly, especially if your premises have been empty for a significant period of time. Now is also the time to check any in store equipment such as TV screens and sound systems to make sure they’re all working as they should.
Finally, check your POS and retail management systems – if all goes well, you’ll be ringing up a lot of sales over the coming weeks so you’ll want these transactions to be processed as smoothly, and quickly, as possible.
- Invest in Publicity
Now you’ve thoroughly checked your store and your stock and briefed your staff, it’s time for the fun bit: getting the word out to your customers that your shop is reopening!
Go back through your mailing lists and start sending out some emails to let your past customers know what they can expect when your doors open again.
To attract new customers, make sure you dedicate some attention to your social media pages and perhaps run a few targeted campaigns on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to publicise your shop.
Get creative and take some photos of your store and any new products you want to promote and make sure you upload these to social media so that your audience has a visual impression of your grand re-opening.
Now’s also the time to think up some promotional ideas – buyers might need tempting back into the shop, after all, so think of ways to entice them: how about a special offer or spring sale? Or, if you’re looking to shift some surplus stock, why not offer a buy one get one free incentive or a free gift with a particular purchase amount?
Make sure you’re communicating effectively with your customers and making them aware that your shop reopening is an event they can’t afford to miss!
Lockdown has been a hard stretch for non-essential retailers and, now that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, it’s vital to get the re-opening of your shop right.
Spend time over the upcoming weeks thoroughly preparing your shop and your staff and you’ll reap the benefits when you open your doors again.
By making sure your inventory is up to date, your employees prepared and your technology working you’ll avoid any niggling glitches on opening day and can instead concentrate on welcoming your customers back and making those all important sales.
Good luck and happy retailing!
If you’re a retailer looking for suppliers, make life easy for yourself by using the Wholesaler UK ‘s online directory to search for products, safe in the knowledge that all our UK wholesalers have been vetted and approved by us!