After 12 months, and a couple of false starts thrown in for good measure, we find ourselves on the final countdown to the return of retail in the UK.
Question is, are you ready to reopen?
A sense of anticipation is certainly building as we draw nearer to a return to normality. But this doesn’t mean we can afford to take our collective eye off the ball.
Now, more than ever, we need to be prepared.
Social distancing rules will still apply, hand-sanitising stations will need to be set out and masks will be a must.
However, devising a plan for a roaring return needs to go beyond government mandated safety measures. You need to prepare the whole organisation for an effective and efficient reopening.
This means accounting for new customer habits, ensuring staff are up to speed on best practices and making sure your customer experience is as enjoyable as possible.
Here are 6 tips to get you ready to reopen and make a fast start to maximise the return to retail.
1 – Consider Customer Habits
The past 12 months have had a profound effect on everyone; your customers are no different.
As part of getting ready to reopen you must take into consideration a change in habits. Start to ask questions around how your processes may have, or perhaps need to, change.
Businesses that thrive after the lifting of restrictions will account for shifts in consumer behaviour and respond accordingly.
Engaging your customers early on, through direct communications or surveys, is a great way to gauge how they are approaching the return of retail.
By taking on board their thoughts and feedback, you can make adjustments to your business allowing for your customer experience to reflect the changes in customer habits.
2 – Be Flexible
Organisations will need to be flexible. Not all of your customers will be on the same page regarding the reopening of retail.
The last thing a business should be doing after such a tumultuous year is alienating potential customers.
If you have invested in an online offering, will you maintain this functionality? Or are you planning on making a full switch back to in store, face to face interactions?
Whilst everyone will have the option of visiting you in store, many will still remain anxious and likely rely on online services.
Whichever option you choose to take, resources need to be allocated accordingly to allow you to meet demand.
Therefore, a flexible approach to online and in store interactions is vital whilst the in store/online balance endures.
3 – Refresh Best Practices
Beyond the confines of our own immediate families, it’s been a long time without in person interaction for many.
As such, customers will be ready and excited to engage and anything sub-standard will stand out like a sore thumb.
You absolutely have to make the first impression count.
So before reopening, ensure every member of staff, on every team, is up to date on best practices.
As part of our Anthill workflows, help text is presented at every stage of the customer journey. This allows you to inform staff of the best way to carry out a particular task and provide the rationale for doing it in that way.
Having everyone clued up and on the same page will help facilitate a seamless transition back to being in store and enable you to guarantee a consistent, quality experience.
4 – Leverage Technology
Instead of struggling with legacy systems to manage your business, utilising the right software can help eliminate revenue restricting operations.
Consider the following three scenarios to see how leveraging the right technology can improve your business as you look to reopen:
- Having all the information you require in one place.
Not only does this provide a single source of truth, it minimises time wasted inputting data, meaning staff can focus on maximising time with new customers.
- Accurate Visibility.
Instead of guessing how staff are engaging with customers, knowing precisely what is going on provides the peace of mind that every interaction is conducted in your desired manner.
Linking ordering and accounting systems can ensure faster turnarounds on projects driving customer satisfaction.
For many businesses, Covid has accelerated their plans for digital transformation. The reopening of retail is when all the hard work put into bringing your business fully up to date will come to fruition.
Your customers will thank you for it.
5 – Patience & Compassion
For both staff and customers alike, the shift back to being in store will be significant. Your business may be ready to reopen but your staff and customers may not be.
This will be their first time back in the environment and they’ll need the time and space to adjust to the return.
For staff who’ve been working throughout, should their responsibilities be changing, take the time to think about how that will affect them.
Similarly, for staff who are coming back from furlough, the return to work may be challenging. Especially if there has been uncertainty in the organisation, they might feel their position is no longer secure.
Likewise, your customers may too be hesitant about being back in store and anxious about the prospect of having to return.
Remember, being human in your interactions will go a long way as people readjust to “normality”.
6 – Covid Secure Stores
Last and certainly not least, make sure you’re Covid secure.
It seems to go without saying but without regulatory compliance, the reopening will be short lived.
Whether for in store or on site visits, ensure all staff have had the appropriate training to be able to welcome customers back.
It’s also a good idea to ensure everyone is up to speed on the social distancing measures you’ve set in place, the rules on customer numbers and entry and exit points.
Complying with all regulations will save you and your customers the headache of worrying about safety as well as ensuring a smooth transition back to an in person experience.
As a final note, everyone at Anthill would like to send their best wishes to everyone able to reopen in the coming weeks! Here’s to the future!
Intrigued to learn more? Check out our Insights Hub to keep your business at the cutting edge.
April 1st, 2021-