You can breathe a sigh of relief. It turns out that we will be able to hit the shops and update our summer wardrobes after all. With sunnier times on the way and lockdown restrictions easing off for non-essential retailers, life is slowly edging back to normality.
Things are looking promising, with high street shops expecting an uplift in footfall by up to 50%. But consumers will still be wary of COVID-19 and will want to keep safe when they’re out and about. So how can retailers come back with a bang while still keeping COVID-19 compliant?
We’ve outlined a few actionable tips below.
Be smart with your shop layout
Safety is paramount. So it’s important to give customers enough room to browse without forcing people too close together.
There’s expected to be a rush of buyers, so if your shop is small, it’s worth limiting capacity and getting customers to queue outside. It’s not ideal, but you’ll stay compliant and it’ll help customers feel safer when they’re browsing your store.
Make sure you have a member of staff at the door ready to greet customers and explain the reasons why they have to wait. Not only is this good customer service but it helps to give a rough idea of waiting times and manages expectations.
It’s also a good chance to ensure your employees are well-equipped to help out customers and deal with safety breaches.
Turning someone away from your shop because they aren’t wearing a face covering isn’t pleasant, so staff should feel like they’re trained up and confident with enforcing safety procedures when necessary.
You could even have a few disposable face masks at the ready for customers who don’t have one of their own to wear.
Use contactless payments for shorter queues
With everyone eager to get back to the shops and spend some cash, queues are inevitable – but you can keep them to a minimum with contactless payments. Since customers don’t need to enter their PIN, there’s less waiting around. You’ll also minimise your staff’s contact with cash.
If you’re expecting the post-lockdown boom to send your store into a frenzy, you might also benefit from Pay at Counter technology. It integrates your card machine to your EPOS, so you won’t need to enter transaction amounts manually – that means fewer miskeying mistakes and less time spent on each transaction. It could even save you up to £140 a month in written-off revenue.
Pay at Counter technology makes cashing up quicker too. Because the payment is pushed from one device to the other, cash and card takings will automatically add up – so balancing the books is a breeze.
Use digital channels to communicate changes for customers
Communication is good for confidence. It lets customers know you're prepared for them and have their safety at the forefront of everything you do. Remember, some shoppers will have been shielding for over a year, so they’ll feel comfortable knowing what to expect when they visit your store.
To give shoppers a good idea of what to expect in your store, you should communicate any changes ahead of time and explain your rationale behind them. For example, you might need to shut earlier to protect staff. It’s also useful to let your customers know you’re deep-cleaning your shop regularly.
Utilise digital channels like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to communicate these changes in a fun and creative way. If you have a mailing list, email is a great way to communicate with your customers too.
Set up ‘click and collect’
Got an online store? You might want to get ‘click and collect’ up and running. You’ll shorten the time some customers are in store since those who buy online will be in and out to collect their item.
If your till area doesn’t have much space, you could even allocate shoppers a time for collection. It’s an easy way to manage your footfall and keep an area free for collections.
And there’s more to gain from ‘click and collect’. It gives you a chance to upsell other stock. With your best merch on display near the collection point, customers might be tempted into a spontaneous purchase.
Reconsider opening times
It might seem radical, but opening your store earlier or later could really help you manage your footfall traffic. The government has already given the green light to shops allowing them to stay open as late as 10pm – so there may be some late-night shoppers looking for a bargain at quieter hours.
By adjusting your opening hours, your staff and members of the public are able to feel safer and shop at a time that’s less busy.
The trouble is that some customers may not know about these changes, but if you utilise digital channels to communicate your new hours, you can avoid customers missing out.
Things are looking up
Retail therapy has been sorely missed. And with a huge uplift in high street transactions already – it’s looking like the high street is making a comeback.
Get ready for the post-lockdown boom and serve customers with a Dojo card machine that can process payments 80% faster than the industry standard.
Findings from 80 customers in February 2021: data represents the average customer, based on size of business and number of card machines; £16 margin of error at 95% confidence.