2020 has not been an easy year for all of us due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, life has to go on and businesses are starting to reopen all over the world. With strict measures being put into place, retail stores are now welcoming back their shoppers but with safety measures in place.
I know it is a challenge to keep employees and customers’ safe at all times, but it is necessary in these trying times. So, even as you follow the local and state regulations, you also need to put into place some of your own precaution measures.
Here are the 8 simple ways to ensure shoppers’ safety in 2020.
1. Thoroughly Sanitize the Store
After being closed for weeks, the store needs to be properly sanitized before opening it for business. Sanitize the front areas, from the shelves, handles, cash registers, walls, ceiling, windows, doors, to the back rooms such as offices, storage room as well as the restrooms.
Don’t forget the outside of the store such as the pavements and parking lots. Note that, you need to equip your employees with protective gear before they start sanitizing the place. You can start by checking out the specific guidelines from the sites of your local and state health authority on how to disinfect high touch surfaces. However, if you can afford to pay a professional cleaning service to do the work for you by any means do so.
2. Make Sure the Staff Adhere to Hygiene Rules
Everyone is advised to stay safe by washing their hands regularly with soap and water or to use hand sanitizers. Employees are also required to follow these hygienic rules without fail. Apart from that, for cashiers as well as the staff who handle merchandise, it is a requirement to wear disposable gloves at all times. Keep in mind, to ensure shoppers sanitize their hands once they walk in your store, place hand sanitizers at the entrance.
3. Equip Yourself with Personal Protective Gear
Employees are required to wear masks at all times while attending to their customers. There is a variety of masks from surgical versions that provides protection against bodily fluids to homemade ones such as scarves and bandanas. While the latter might not be effective as the surgical masks, they are still considered to provide protection according to the CDC. However, for store owners and employees, it is recommended you use the top-notch disposable masks. In addition, you should provide the same masks to your shoppers when they walk in your door.
When it comes to cash registers, you can install plexiglass shields to separate your employees and shoppers. Also, provide your staff with safety vests that have caution words like keep your distance and also enough uniforms to change in between shifts to ensure they stay germ-free.
4. Open up Product Points
Maybe your store isn’t big enough to hold a lot of shoppers when you put into effect the six-foot distance policy. However, that should not dampen your mood. You can come up with several techniques to ensure you attend to all your customers. First of all, request your customers to call in orders by phone or use the Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) method. What about the new customers who walk in the store? There are several ways to attend to them; you can request them to wait in a certain area for other shoppers to be done with their shopping. However, if they are in a hurry, request them to briefly browse what they need, place the order with the cashier, and wait for a sales associate to pick the items for them.
5. Introduce Other means of Payments
To avoid the exchange of money or handling of credit cards between the shoppers and cashiers, it is wise to introduce other means of payment. One of the ideal methods is the mobile phone payment which is suitable for BOPIS customers as well as in-store ones. As for credit cards, the cashier can request the customer to read out to them the information thus avoiding touching it.
6. Offer Delivery Services
Offering delivery services to your customers does not only keep your store running efficiently but also helps reduce the spread of coronavirus. This kind of service ensures your customers get what they need in the comfort of their homes. Make the elderly, pregnant women as well as the mothers nursing young ones a priority. If you feel your employees are becoming overwhelmed with the deliveries, you can put aside certain days where you choose to deliver to only certain areas. It might also be a good idea to encourage your staff to drop off the purchased stuff on their way home to the customers living in the same area as them.
When it comes to shipping you don’t have to be operating an e-commerce site to be able to ship goods to your customers. Just like you operate a BIPOS, you can also encourage your customers to order the items by phone and ship to them via services such as FedEx and UPS. Another way is by using your delivery service to customers near you. These services can be offered free of charge in case you are delivering within your area or you can charge them a small fee if you are using other delivery services.
8. Encourage Social Distancing
Practicing social distancing should be your number one priority when it comes to your employees as well as the customers. Make sure they keep the six feet rule between them at all times by using tape to mark on the floor to avoid customers being close to each other. If your store is wide enough, you can make some changes by making aisles one way to reduce foot traffic thus creating more distance. What’s more, you can invest in a counting system that uses sensors at the entrance areas to ensure you limit the number of customers coming in.
Keep in mind, most of these measures can be used even after the pandemic is over and we have gone back to our normal lives.