The country’s retail outlets are beginning to reopen but there’s still confusion on how to best protect against the coronavirus. For essential businesses and even non-essential ones, mitigating the risk of spreading infection is vital for keeping employees and customers healthy, and business doors open.
By taking additional steps, your brand can build a reputation of safety — something that goes a long way when they’re facing a long road of recovery ahead.
Although retail stores are continuing to open, many local mandates restrict the number of shoppers that are allowed inside. Even if there aren’t regulations in place, business owners may choose to voluntarily limit occupancy to decrease the risk of exposure for employees. This can increase the chance that customers will line up outside — this also means check-out lines need to be managed as well.
Outside your store, there should be clear signage that explains the guidelines for social distancing and face mask mandates. Crowd management outside sets clear expectations inside. Point-of-sale and register areas need to have the same signage with instructions and even decals that help shoppers maintain at least 6 feet of distance without having to “guess”.
Just a few short months ago, business owners may not have given a second thought to the layout of their display cases. Now, however, it should be the foundation of their social distancing strategy. Aisles need to be wide enough for traffic to flow comfortably while also allowing for easy access to inventory, and that may mean investing in custom display cases.
Streamlining your layout is also a good merchandising strategy in general. Giving clear, safe access to items without shoppers having to handle them means reducing “hot zones” that could potentially spread disease by contact. It’s also a smart way to highlight new or relevant product lines that could help solve the biggest pain points and help brands pivot.
After you change your layout, you’ll need to provide wayfinding tools to help customers find their way. Regulars will be used to traveling throughout your store based on pre-pandemic shopping behavior; now they’ll need to know which aisles are one-way. It’s also important to help them get to the check-out counter or the exits as quickly as possible.
As mentioned, decals are important here. If your store is limiting the purchase of certain items, that information needs to be clearly expressed as well. Shelf easels offer clear messages about these products and purchases and shelf barkers offer a smaller format to do the same while remaining clearly visible and at eye level. Help answer questions for shoppers by limiting face-to-face interaction with employees.
Retail space cleaning is an integral part of giving off a great impression, and that’s especially true now that cleanliness can keep your retail business competitive. Revamp your entire cleaning schedule, increase the frequency, and leave no corner of your store untouched — even the back office.
Choosing the right display cases can make this job much easier and more efficient. Glass (versus materials like wood or laminate) can withstand a more aggressive schedule and top-notch cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that the CDC recommends in the fight against the spread of illness and infection.
Items that retail customers need to touch or handle need to be put up for now. Things like fragrance testers or tech gadgets that once enhanced the shopper experience should be put up in display cases for now, with a rule implemented that only employees can handle these items to reduce cross-contamination.
It’s not ideal, but having a separate display case for these items can help shoppers better understand that this is being done for their own safety. Use signage to help educate them further with visual representations of what they previously would have discovered by handling demi items themselves.
If there’s space for your business to set up shop outside, take advantage of that. Displaying merchandise in front of entry doors or along the front exterior walls helps with crowd management and reduces the number of shoppers that come inside. Have custom, weather-resistant merchandising tools created to help — kiosks are an especially great idea to engage shoppers.
Merchandising outdoors can be a huge perk for customers who are wary about entering a retail store or could be at higher risk of getting sick. Retail businesses that are already struggling with margins can expand their customers and create a network of loyal customers when it’s clear that they’re doing what they can to keep everyone safe.