As shelter-in-place restrictions begin to ease across the country, and businesses are permitted to resume operations in the new normal, it’s important for all retailers to understand and plan for changing consumer expectations and new safety requirements.
We’ve been talking with retailers in our community, including essential retailers who have remained open throughout the last several weeks of the pandemic, to learn from the best practices and guidelines they have established in their stores. Our community is stronger when we work together, and we will continue to monitor and share learnings on how to navigate a safe reopening for your shop.
Before reopening, be sure to consult your local authorities to ensure you are well-versed on county-specific guidelines and regulations, as there are some key differences regarding the types of businesses that are allowed to operate and at what capacity. We also recommend you refer to the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses to Maintain Healthy Operations.
After you’ve consulted local regulations and requirements for reopening, make sure you have daily practices in place to keep your team and your store safe.
Protect your customers
At the heart of local retail is the community it fosters. We know that your customers are at the forefront of everything you do and now more than ever, their health and safety are the top priority.
Here are a few ways you can help ensure your customers feel safe when you reopen your doors:
- Limit the flow of traffic – Depending on the size and location of your store, determine the appropriate maximum capacity with social distancing measures in mind. Introduce signage in your window or outside to inform customers of your new capacity limits.
- Promote social distancing guidelines – Designate markers on the floor throughout your shop so that customers waiting in line, in any aisles or at the cash register can stand at least 6 feet apart. Direct one-way traffic in aisles where possible.
- Provide proper protection – Ensure customers have access to regulation hand sanitizer at all entrances, exits, and POS stations. Refer to CDC guidelines to ensure your alcohol-based hand rub is greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.
- Enforce masks – Require that all customers entering the shop wear a face mask (per CDC recommendations) to prevent any unnecessary transmissions and make other customers feel safe coming inside.
- Limit store hours – Reduce your store hours if necessary to take into account time for cleaning, and consider designating a specific time for high-risk customers to shop, like a senior’s hour for shoppers over the age of 65.
San Francisco-based retailer, Epicurean Trader has limited store capacity and hours, and is working with OpenTable to let high-risk customers schedule a time to shop. They’re also partnering with local distilleries in the area, like Seven Stills and Falcon Spirits, who have shifted their operations to produce high proof, spirit-based botanical hand sanitizer for use in their stores.
Keep your team healthy
- Ensure employees are healthy – Monitor the health status of your employees to ensure they are showing no symptoms and encourage team members who are feeling sick to stay home.
- Provide face masks and gloves – Ensure that all employees are protected with face masks (per CDC recommendations) and gloves (per FDA recommendations).
- Establish barriers – Place plastic guards at designated service stations or cash registers to provide another layer of protection for your team.
On a recent episode of our podcast Brick & Order, Epicurean Trader owner Mat Pond shared, “People would be quite surprised about the challenges that you face, in actually opening and keeping your staff safe and keeping your customers safe, which is critical and difficult to do right.” Among other measures, Mat has been checking employees before they begin work to ensure they are not showing any signs of symptoms. To hear how else Mat is protecting the safety of employees and customers, listen to the episode here.
Keep your shop safe
- Encourage contactless pay – If possible, promote the use of Square contactless reader, ApplePay or similar hardware solutions for contactless transactions.
- Consider curbside pickup or delivery – Some consumers may still not feel comfortable shopping in-store, so consider offering curbside pickup or local delivery (if your county’s regulations allow you to). We’ll share the best practices we’re seeing in the community in a follow up post next week.
- Disinfect often – Instruct employees to frequently sanitize counters, registers, and other frequently touched objects and surfaces with EPA-approved disinfectants per the CDC’s recommendation. Consider hiring a professional cleaning company to do a deep clean and sanitize on a regular basis.
- Limit self-serve – Remove any self-serve stations for food & beverage, discard any tester products, and cease the use of reusable products like personal shopping bags and mugs.
- Re-merchandise windows – Take advantage of the real estate in your window displays to promote essential items.
San Francisco-based retailer, Douglas SF is offering a completely contactless shopping experience. They moved their register three feet from the entrance and placed one of each item sold, either in a window display or in tables next to the register. Customers come in one by one and tell a staff member which items they would like to purchase. The window displays are neatly organized by category (cleaning supplies, dry goods, sweets, etc.) and signage shares a list of everything in stock that day, so that customers can start to plan while in line. The individual shopping experience also allows staff to focus on personalized hospitality. Lastly, they are using bakery tissue to act as a barrier on their POS station so that customers can sign their receipts without worry about cross contamination.
Prepare with the essentials
Essential products may be in higher demand. If you’re looking to add more essential items to your inventory for the reopening of your store, browse our featured collections like Home Essentials, Cook at Home, and Face Masks.
Share with others
We’ll continue to share best practices for reopening with more examples from our community. If you’re interested in sharing your reopening story with us, please reach out to [email protected].