Following recent communication from the government detailing the re-opening of some retail outlets on the 15th June, here are some steps you could start putting into motion in readiness.
The overall objective is to minimise the contact resulting from visits to your stores or branches. You want your customers to be visiting your business, but keep them and your staff safe whilst doing so.
To help ensure you safely manage contact in your business, consider the steps below.
- Take a look at your store or branch and define the number of customers that can reasonably follow 2m social distancing within the store and any outdoor selling areas. Make sure you take into account the total floorspace as well as any likely pinch points and busy areas. Use this information to limit the number of customers in the store at any one time, as well as any particular congestion areas, e.g. doorways. Once you’ve identified this information, you could use the closeddoor app to offer the optimum appointment times and control the number of customers in store.
- Consider suspending or reducing customer services that cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines. You may need to re-think how you provide assistance e.g. rather than a member of staff helping a customer to lift something, have a designated pair of colleagues to lift any items.
- Unless a shopper needs specific assistance, try to encourage customers to shop alone where possible.
- Be mindful of customers who may need to bring children with them. Remind them that children are their responsibility for supervising them at all times, ensuring they also follow the social distancing guidelines.
- Model how customers will likely walk through the shop. Look at how this could be adjusted in order to reduce congestion and contact between customers. Examples of this could be having a one-way flow and managing queues. You could also reduce congestion and avoid queues altogether with the closeddoor pre-booking app.
- If you are anticipating queues, utilise safe, outside space. Make sure any queue management plans are well communicated, including ensuring that entrances and exits are well sign-posted, and don’t pose difficulties to disabled shoppers. Queues outside need to be well managed to ensure social distancing and not cause a risk to people or other businesses through the use of queuing systems, barriers and a dedicated staff member to oversee it. To side-step queues from forming outside your business, you could use simple appointment-based technology so customers can arrive at a pre-booked time.
- Provide hand sanitising stations at the entrance and encourage customers to use them upon entering the store in order to reduce the risk of transmission through touching products. Encourage customers to not handle products whilst browsing, if possible.
- Consider working with other local businesses to provide additional transport facilities that would help customers avoid public transport e.g. extra car parking spaces or bike racks.
- Use clear signage to promote guidelines on social distancing and hygiene which are obvious to customers on arrival.
- Communicate the latest guidelines in written and spoken form for customers, both inside the store as well as outside e.g. on your website. Clear signage in-store means customers know what is expected, and outlining the safety procedures online that are currently in place will build customer confidence in your business before visiting. Not only does the closeddoor app offer your customers the opportunity to pre-book their time, it can also be customised to match your brand, and a handy link provided for your web link and social media to share with customers past and potential.
- Employ a member of staff to be your dedicated ‘Covid-19 secure’ champion, giving them a clearly designated position from which they can provide advice or assistance to customers.
- Consider how you could stagger opening times between local businesses to encourage the spread of arrival times throughout the day and reduce potential congestion on local public transport services. Schedules can be customised in the closeddoor app and appointment slots only available at appropriate times.
Whilst it is paramount for smaller retail outlets to follow the supermarkets lead in terms of changing their shopping experience, technology could be an additional and valuable tool to help other stores bounce back to this new normal.
Introducing pre-booking to your store could be a game-changer – Get your customers back without the queues, and give them confidence that they are safe and your store is Covid-19 secure. For more reasons why closeddoor could be just the app you need for socially distanced success, head to the website https://closeddoor.co.uk/why/
Please always check the most recent government guidelines. At time of publishing, full guidelines for the reopening of your store or branch could be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches