Post-COVID retail reopening checklist: what to do next

Retailers – big and small – are plotting a course towards a return to their physical, bricks-and-mortar operations after varying degrees of lockdown for two months.

COVID-19 still looms large but with a flattened curve, easing restrictions and an Australian Government focused on restarting  the economy it makes sense to prepare for your store’s reopening.

This should be done sooner rather than later even though timelines may differ across states and in different industry verticals.

Retail reopening checklist

Use this checklist so your business can successfully get ready for the end of the retail hibernation.

Confirm with local authorities

While there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, you must still be careful, considered and well-informed before you rush back into your store. The timing and manner of reopening the economy will vary from one state to the next.

For example, states like Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia have been quicker to ease restrictions than states like Victoria. What’s more, some may stagger their approach, by only allowing certain types of businesses to reopen initially. 

The best thing you can do is confirm with your state authority. Check its website to understand its guidance in relation to your business. If you aren’t allowed to reopen yet, that’s not to say you won’t be allowed soon, so check regularly.

And if it is safe for you to begin reopening, take some time to confirm dates and understand any measures you might need to comply with before you open the doors. 

Prepare your employees

Next up, you need to share that information with your team and prepare them so that your store is staffed and your team is compliant with any ongoing social distancing measures.

When arranging for the return of your employees, it’s important to find out who is comfortable coming back, if there are any health concerns and even whether any staff have had to return home to another town, state or country.

Once you know who’s willing and able to work, map out their schedules and distribute – ideally using a cloud-based system, so you can quickly and easily update staff to any changes.

Keep health and safety top of mind by constantly reminding your team about the importance of proper hygiene and social distancing. And if you’ll be implementing new policies in-store, regularly remind your team to enforce them.

The Australia Government’s SafeWork website has many best practices and requirements about how to operate during the pandemic.

Prepare your inventory

Physical goods are the core of any retail business, so ensure you’re stocked with the right products when you’re ready to re-welcome your customers. Conduct an inventory count to get a handle on what you have on-hand and ensure that it matches up with what you have on your stock control system. 

Figure out what items to sell and promote by running performance reports that can help you determine the products that may have the greatest demand when things reopen. Utilise powerful reporting tools in retail software to give you a deeper and real-time understanding of your inventory and business as a whole.

It is likely that some of your overseas suppliers might not be able to deliver new stock in a timely manner. Now is the time to ensure you have reasonable diversity in your suppliers to hedge on any supply chain interruptions.

Equipment, supplies and tech

So that your store runs smoothly, ensure that all your services, supplies, and technologies are up and running. For example, inspect your physical store to ensure that it’s safe, presentable and stocked for reopening.

Confirm that utilities such as electricity, water and WiFi are working. If any were disconnected, call the utility companies to ensure that they’re in working order before you reopen.

Make sure your POS and retail management systems are good to go. You need to be able to ring up sales and serve customers efficiently, and your business needs to be armed with a working POS to do that.

Health and safety measures

While restrictions are easing, it’s still important to exercise extreme care and take steps to protect your staff and customers when you reopen. 

Display signage inside and outside your store that outline any guidelines or policies they need to adhere to.

Consider adding markers or decals on your floor, particularly near the checkout counter, so people know where to stand in line.

Clean often and make protective equipment and supplies like gloves, masks and hand sanitiser readily available so everyone, staff and customers, feel comfortable that you’re taking steps to protect them.

You may also want to limit the number of people allowed in store, accept only contactless forms of payment and even limit access to fitting rooms.

Spread the word

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, get the word out. You need to drive awareness and traffic to your store when you re-open. A big part of doing this lies in communicating with your customers, through any means possible:  storefront signs, email and SMS, social media messages, notifications on an eCommerce store.

Let people know you’re back and what they can expect from your business.

Author: Dave Scheine, Vend MD for APAC