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Five Vital Steps to Prepare Your Retail Business for Reopening

22 Feb 2021

Updated - 22 February, 2021

Following the Prime Minister's February 22nd address and publication of the government’s updated COVID-19 advice, all retailers throughout the UK - including specialist, clothing, home goods, and electronics stores - are preparing to reopen after April 12th, 2021 as part of Step Two of the COVID recovery plan.

Upon reopening, social distancing rules will still be important, alongside other essential measures, such as establishing points of entry and exit to your shop, setting up hand-sanitising stations, and engaging staff in health & safety training.

But as well as making sure you’re able to reopen safely, it’s also vital to put plans in place now to ensure that you’re able to open effectively. Here’s our five-step guide to help you prepare, and ensure your business is firing on all cylinders.

Five steps to help your retail business bounce back

Get a handle on your stock

Solid inventory management is vital for any retail business, but it’s even more crucial if you’ve been closed for a period of time. Even if you've been offering Click and Collect, you will want to prepare for the increased traffic from indoor shopping.

With less than two months left until you can potentially begin to reopen your shop completely, now is the time to take a count of what you’ve got, and what you need to restock, in order to successfully reopen with the products your customers love.

With Epos Now, you can use smart inventory management and sales reports to identify your best-sellers. With this information at hand, you can increase your levels of in-demand items prior to reopening. Similarly, use your reports to identify what hasn’t been selling so well, so you can make informed decisions about discounting and bundling.

To get an even better idea of what your customers might be looking for, combine your historical sales data with online search and social media trends, and make sure you’re stocked up with products that are in demand.

Prepare and manage your staff

With social distancing measures in place, setting the right staffing levels will be tricky at first. In an effort to avoid overcrowding your store, you’ll want to minimise the number of staff you have on-site, while ensuring you’re still able to meet customers’ needs.

To take the guesswork out of managing staff scheduling, consider integrating your POS system with a tool like Deputy that uses your expected sales and foot traffic to optimise staffing levels. This will help you to ensure that only your essential employees are in store.

But before you bring any members of staff back, ensure they’ve had appropriate training on social distancing and any other measures you’ve set in place. Make sure everyone is not only aware of the rules on customer numbers, but also familiar with entry and exit points, as well as queuing practices.

Meanwhile, if your back office staff - like administrative, accounts and marketing personnel - can work from home, they should do so until you’re able to lift your social distancing measures.

Give customers a way to shop online

In preparation for reopening, it could well be worth creating an online store, or integrating your existing ecommerce website, with your Epos system. 

Creating an ecommerce outlet for your shop gives you the ability to serve more customers safely, while future-proofing your business and expanding into new markets. While everyone will have the right to shop in-person during Step Two, those at-risk will still likely rely on online shopping.

Indeed, the businesses that thrive after the outbreak will be those that are able to respond to shifts in consumer behaviour. Having a presence online will allow you to cater to customers who value not just the convenience of online retail, but also the safety of shopping from the comfort of their homes.

With Epos Now, you can create an online store with any one of our eCommerce partners - including Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce - and sync your online and physical stores with ease to create a true omnichannel business, capable of weathering anything.

Communicate with your customers

Communicating clearly and regularly with your customers has never been more important. It’s vital that retailers use every tool at their disposal to ensure that customers know when you’re open, and what measure you’re putting in place to ensure customers can shop safely and conveniently.

Use your EPOS system to integrate with email marketing tools like MailChimp to engage specific customer groups with targeted messaging. Let them know when you plan to reopen, and tempt them with tailored promotions and offers. Promotions are not only a great way to boost profit margins, but they can also be highly effective in increasing store traffic and boosting customer loyalty.

It’s also important to make the most of social media when preparing to reopen your store. Create a buzz with competitions, promotions, and information about your online store and any click and collect services you’re offering.

Turn your store into a COVID secure space

Food retailers up-and-down the country have done a remarkable job in both serving the needs and protecting the health of their customers. One way they’ve done this is by limiting the number of customers allowed in-store, while enforcing social distancing practices for shoppers and staff alike.

A good place to start is to consider the size and layout of your store to calculate how many people you can realistically accommodate while allowing for 2 metres of distance between shoppers.

To help manage the flow of customers into your shop, try closing off surplus doorways, and, if possible, establish single points of entry and exit. Staff members will also be required to manage customer traffic to ensure that social distancing can be observed in-store.

A further measure you could look to implement would be the addition of hand-sanitizing, or hand-washing, stations at the entrance and exit points of your shop. To complement this, and reduce physical contact as much as possible, make sure you’re able to accept card payments.

In these challenging times, as you’re preparing to reopen your retail or hospitality businesses for guests, we wanted to provide you with free signage so you can focus on getting your social distancing measures in place.

We have created these posters in order to further assist you in reopening your shop so that your staff and customers can work safely in accordance with government guidelines:

Click Here to Download your Free Social Distancing Signs

If you’re looking for full advice and guidance on how to keep staff and customers safe when you reopen, check out our breakdown of the government’s latest advice.

For more information on the developing COVID-19 situation and its impact on businesses, as well as for access to useful resources, please visit our dedicated page here.