How to boost sales in your retail store - COVID angle

Published: 01/03/2021

Now lockdown measures are beginning to ease and UK consumers are venturing back outside of the house, it’s a crucial time for retail stores to begin their road to recovery.

Here at takepayments, we’re all about supporting small businesses, so we’ve put together seven top tips for boosting sales in your store post-lockdown, and getting your business back on track.

1.  Re-arrange the layout

As we’re all now familiar, social distancing is the new normal, so you need to put some work into making sure your store allows for it.

If a consumer enters your store and feels unsafe, chances are they’ll walk straight back out, so rearrange your rails and displays to allow customers to browse at a safe distance from both staff and other shoppers.

2. Look at your stock

The way we’re living our lives this year is vastly different from before with people spending more time at home than ever, so the stock you offer needs to reflect that. 

While previously it might have been all about ‘holiday wardrobes’ and ‘beachwear’, the reality is most people are skipping their vacation abroad in 2020 and opting instead to stay home or travel within the UK, indulge in some self-care, and spend more time with their loved ones. 

Items flying off the shelves right now include:

  • Toys and games - up 90%
  • Sporting goods - up 47%
  • Health and beauty supplies - up 42%
  • Home and garden items - up 36%

So, the top tip here is to rethink which items you stock post-lockdown to meet consumer demand and boost your sales. 

3. Payments

It’s not just the way we’re shopping that’s changing but the way we’re paying for it too. In the wake of COVID-19 payment in cash is less popular than ever before, used less by 75% of consumers who admit to being afraid to handle it

Card payments on the flip side have increased by 75%, with contactless payments up 31% thanks to their risk-free nature - in fact, the British government has encouraged businesses to accept contactless payments wherever possible to reduce the risk of transmission.  

So, what’s the takeaway? Make sure you’re set up and ready to accept contactless card payments so you can offer your customers COVID-secure, safer payments and ultimately boost sales - experts are suggesting consumers will only consider spending their money with businesses they perceive to be safe.

Remember: if you have a card machine, you need to re-position it to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Find a spot where payer and payee don’t need to come within two-meters of one another during the transaction. 

4. Provide a service

It’s no secret that online sales skyrocketed during lockdown, in no small part due to the fact that consumers had no other choice, but it’s led some people to fear shoppers will continue to head to the web now they’re allowed to go back to stores.

The key to ensuring consumers don’t fall into that habit is offering them a service they simply can’t get online. Providing a personalised customer service is the number one way to boost sales in the retail sector, so take a look at things like:

  • Staff training,
  • Product knowledge,
  • Product samples,
  • Loyalty benefits, and
  • The customer experience you offer.

5. Get online 

It might sound counterintuitive based on the last point, but developing your online presence is a sure-fire way to tide your store over during this period of uncertainty.

While some consumers are happy to head back to the high street now they’ve been given the green light, others are still wary or shielding, so by working on both your physical and online efforts you’ll be sure to capture as much of the market as possible.

By giving consumers access to your goods online temporarily (or long-term, it’s up to you!), chances are when they are ready to head back out they’ll remember how you looked after them and be heading straight for your store.

Find out everything you need to know about establishing an online presence for your business here

Top tip: Not a tech whizz? Don’t panic, taking sales online might be a great task to assign to a staff member who’s had little to do while things pick back up. 

6. Hygiene and safety 

There are several elements to ensuring your store is up to scratch on the health and safety front post-lockdown:

a. PPE

Face coverings and visors are not compulsory throughout the retail sector, but it’s advised they’re worn in situations deemed unsafe, such as when social distancing cannot be maintained. 

However, as of July 24th, face coverings will be mandatory for all consumers in shops and supermarkets, and business owners are expected to encourage compliance.

b. Hand washing

Frequent hand washing and disinfection is paramount. It’s recommended you wash your hands after each new contact with a surface touched by someone else. Hand sanitiser should be made available to all customers entering your store, as well as staff.

c. Cleaning

Regular and thorough cleaning of all regularly touched surfaces is key, including door handles, rails, desks, card machines, and so on.

d. Capacity

You need to carry out a risk assessment to work out how many customers you can safely fit in your store while maintaining distancing. This information should be made available to all staff members, and the responsibility of who will implement it assigned. 

It’s also important you work out how customers will queue safely if you reach capacity, and social distancing is maintained during the queuing process (signs and floor markings are a good idea).

e. Ventilation

Proper ventilation has been shown to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, so if you’ve got air conditioning consider getting it serviced, and at a minimum keep windows and/or doors open.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with boosting sales? It all boils down to consumer trust in your business, and by adhering to all the health and safety guidelines you’re demonstrating to them that they’re safe and secure in your store and can trust you. 

The key to ensuring this works is making sure your customers can see the effort you’re making, and that leads us nicely onto…

7. Marketing

Rearranging your store, improving your stock, upgrading your payment system, selling online, and adhering to all the health and safety regulations is great, but it won’t have half the impact it could if you don’t let consumers know.

Show them you care, get them engaged in your business, reassure them they’re safe in your hands, and you’re sure to boost retail sales. You’ve got options when it comes to marketing:

  • On social media
  • Via email
  • Posters and flyers
  • On your website 
  • In the local paper

And don’t forget good old word of mouth - if a consumer comes into your store and receives top-notch customer service, finds the product they’ve been looking for, feels super safe and sees all the effort you’ve put in, there’s no doubt they’ll tell their friends and family about it, and that will benefit your bottom lines. 

Don’t forget to access the support available 

We know this has been an unbelievably difficult time for businesses in the retail sector, and that’s why we’ve acted so fast in doing what we can to support our customers. 

The government’s introduced loads of financial support options for businesses during the pandemic, and you can find out all the latest in our guide: one-stop help for business support during COVID-19 - we’re updating it regularly with up-to-date info.

For other news, guidance, and information related to COVID-19, check out our dedicated customer hub

If you’re looking to set up contactless card payments we’ve got you covered with our market-leading card machines too, or if it’s online payments you’re interested in we’ve got plenty of those as well - for more help and support chat to one of our friendly experts today on 08082 392658. 

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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