How to launch a safe and effective retail reopening

Published: 23/02/2021

Hallelujah! Boris Johnson finally shared the news we’ve all been waiting for on February 22nd - how we’re going to come out of the other side of lockdown once and for all.

Step two of the COVID recovery plan was shared along with the publication of the government’s updated COVID-19 advice which states all retailers throughout the UK can prepare to open their doors once more after April 12th.

While it’s super exciting for businesses big and small, it means there’s a lot to think about when it comes to safely and effectively reopening.

Along with the now ‘normal’ social distancing measures, hand sanitising stations, and designated entry and exit points, it’s also mission-critical to get planning for how your business will come back with a bang.

But don’t sweat it, in this article, we’ll share five easy to follow steps for success.

1. Sort out your staff

While social distancing remains a prerequisite for safety, it’s important businesses work out what this means for their staffing. 

Naturally, overcrowding is a big no-no, and this means you’ll need to have a few employees on-site as possible while still meeting customer demands and ensuring customer satisfaction. 

It can be a tricky balance to strike, but luckily there are tools are your disposal to make it easier. One such tool is Deputy which can be integrated into your EPOS system - it uses your estimated sales and footfall to give you the optimal staff levels - clever, right?

Training

On the subject of staff, proper training is also paramount at this delicate time - so use the weeks ahead of reopening to make sure everyone on your books has had the appropriate training on:

  • Social distancing rules
  • Customer numbers
  • Entry and exit points
  • Hygiene and cleanliness
  • How to use your tech.

And remember, for the time being, any employees who can continue to work efficiently at home should do so, for example, those in administrative back-office roles. 

2. Stock management

With two months of prep time ahead of you before your grand reopening, it’s time to start sorting out your stock levels.

Since businesses have been closed for some time, inventory management is more important than ever. Even if you’ve been offering some form of click and collect service during the lockdown, remember that when consumers are allowed back on the high street your footfall is going to grow significantly.

Now’s the perfect time to get started, so:

  • Check existing stock - remember to check for the likes of expiry and best before dates.
  • Work out what you need more of and when it needs ordering by so you’ve got it in time.
  • Look for any changes in habits or trends - are there potential new products you’ll want to get hold of to stay competitive? 

With top-notch EPOS systems (spoiler, like ours!) you’ll have smart inventory management software at your fingertips to make this whole process super simple. With EPOS you can:

  • Look over past sales reports - this is really useful to identify what sells well and when.
  • Identify best sellers and use this information to stock up on the most popular items ahead of the opening.
  • Cut the wheat from the chaff - what’s not selling well and can be scrapped?
  • Make informed decisions about offers, promotions, and discounts.

Top tip: combine all this info with a little internet research and social media scouring - identify trends and set yourself up for success.

3. Spread the word

While for the most part consumers are itching to get back out to their beloved shops, there is also an air of trepidation over the safety of doing so meaning it’s never been more important than right now to do what you can to put them at ease.

Communicate openly, honestly, and regularly to really settle any nerves about shopping with you - outline the measures you’ve taken, how their safety is your priority, and what they can expect when they visit. 

This is also a great time to start sharing any upcoming offers, promotions, or discounts you’ve got up your sleeve. It’ll start to build a real sense of anticipation and excitement - working wonders for your sales come April.

Wondering what’s the best route to take? Well, you’ve got options including:

  • Email campaign
  • Social media 
  • Website, and
  • Using your EPOS (have you spotted a trend here?)

This might be starting to sound like an EPOS sales pitch, but the truth of the matter is EPOS systems are packed full of useful tools designed to make business owners’ lives easier, and they’ve got your communications covered too. 

There are loads of apps to discover, including a MailChimp integration that allows you to target specific customer groups with targeted messaging - proven to boost engagement, traffic, loyalty, and ultimately profit margins.

4. Hop online

If you’ve not done so already during the pandemic, there’s no time like the present to develop an internet sales presence for your business.

As we said, most people are keen to get back out there, but there are some who aren’t and by allowing them to shop with you online you’ll be covering all bases, ensuring you don’t lose out on a sale, and giving all your customers what they want. 

Fun fact: businesses who’ve acted fast to adapt their offering in a COVID world have seen the most success in a challenging landscape.

Setting up shop online is so much easier than you might think - the likes of a payment gateway allow for straightforward payments, and you can even integrate these with your instore EPOS system so you’ll have access to all the reports and data you need in one place.

Online shopping has skyrocketed throughout the pandemic - we didn’t have much of an alternative - and while we soon will, it’s opened up consumers’ eyes to the convenience it offers meaning its’ popularity is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. 

Pssst: Find out about our market-leading payment gateway here.

5. Double down on safety measures

Last but not least, check and check again that you’ve implemented all the necessary COVID secure measures in your business. 

Social distancing

When it comes to social distancing, work out how many customers you can safely fit in your store alongside your staff. Once you’ve got the numbers down, educate all your staff, and put clear signage on your door stating the limit and around your premises reminding shoppers to keep their distance.

Establish a one-way system around your shop so there are no awkward run-ins, clearly label these with arrows, and where possible delineate separate entrance and exit routes. If this isn’t an option, designate a staff member to manage traffic in and out.

Hygiene

Make sure hand sanitiser and cleaning stations are set up for customer use - encourage shoppers to make use of your supplies upon entering and leaving. If you offer baskets or trolleys, have disinfectant wipes or sprays on hand for any customer who wants to use them before browsing, and don’t forget to clean shared surfaces between uses.

Payments

More shoppers than ever will now want to pay on plastic - it’s the safest way to pay as well as the most popular by a country mile off the back of the pandemic. 

If you’re not yet armed with the equipment needed, now’s the time to get the ball rolling. 

Next steps

Here at takepayments we’re over the moon that our customers will soon be able to go back to doing what they love and serving shoppers. 

If your payment systems need a spruce up ahead of April, reach out today and we’ll have you up and running in plenty of time.

We offer two cutting-edge EPOS systems - EPOS Now and our brank-spanking new eposmove - they offer limitless business benefits, safe payments, and make life as an entrepreneur a doddle. 

If it’s a card machine you’re after, our countertop, portable, mobile, and A920 terminals are the cream of the crop and all come with contactless payments as standard. And if you want to dive into online sales, our payment gateway is the solution for you.

Reach out today and our experts will help you decide what’s the best fit for your business and do all the hard work for you. All that’s left for us to say is good luck!

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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