Across the country, brick-and-mortar business owners like you are eager to open their doors again. But right now, there's likely one question on your mind: How do I help my customers feel safe enough to shop with me again?
Post-coronavirus store operations will look different. That means you can put a plan in place now to ensure re-opening goes smoothly. Follow these helpful tips for welcoming back your customers safely. Be transparent about your cleaning practices. If your doors have been shuttered for weeks or months, your first priority should be a thorough cleaning to sanitize all surfaces, from restrooms to cash registers. Also publicize your ongoing disinfectant procedures so customers feel confident entering the store. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers a customizable flyer you can display in your location. Cap the number of people permitted in-store at one time. Social distancing rules will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. That means you'll have to reduce foot traffic through your store to ensure there's ample space to move around and stay six feet apart. Rethink the layout of displays, desks, and counters, and consider assigning a staff member to manage the flow from outside the building. Encourage healthy behavior. Post signage throughout the store encouraging social distancing measures and reminding them that masks are required while shopping. Install hand sanitizer stations, especially in high-trafficked areas like elevators or doorways, and offer disinfectant wipes to clean down shopping baskets and carts. Place no-touch trash cans throughout so people can safely dispose of their wipes. Provide in-store pickup. Allow customers to make purchases through your website with online checkout or digital invoicing. This limits the amount of time customers have to spend in the store. Curbside pickup is another great way to give your shoppers flexibility. Serve your customers through multiple channels. Give customers the option to connect with a store associate by phone or live chat to get questions answered before coming into the store. Many shops are also offering appointment slots, which shoppers can book in advance. It adds exclusivity while simultaneously reassuring shoppers you care about their well-being. Use touch-free payments. Customers can pay quickly using a QR code without ever having to physically interact with store associates. Plus, until September 30, 2020, you can use QR codes with 0% transaction fees (so learn how to install a QR code now). If you use a "tap and pay" technology, shoppers can link their credit cards or bank account to an app and use it to pay through a contactless credit card terminal. Enclose the checkout counter in plexiglass. If possible, open every other cash register only and create a plexiglass partition around your checkout area. This barrier acts as an additional "health guard" to shield your shoppers from germs. Position credit card units on the customer side. Adopt new standards of practice. Keep fitting rooms closed for the time being and remove self-serve stations and product samples/testers. Many small business owners are also instituting new rules for returns, requiring that items be quarantined for 48 to 72 hours before being re-stocked. Prepare your staff. Your team needs to stay healthy in order to protect your customers, so make sure your employees are trained in: · Proper hand-washing procedures · Coughing and sneezing etiquette · Wearing and cleaning of face masks Establish alternating work schedules or extra shifts to reduce the total number of employees in the store at a given time. Check with your local government to see if they require you to supply your team with masks. Even if it's not state-mandated, it's a good idea to keep a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment on-hand. Look toward the future. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A.) offers several guidelines to keep in mind as you look ahead, including installing high-efficiency air filters to increase ventilation and creating a plan for immediately isolating employees or customers who become sick in your store. And keep in mind that best practices will evolve, so it’s important to keep checking O.S.H.A.’s site to stay informed. Brighter days are ahead, and taking these steps will help ensure your customers feel confident shopping with you again.
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