How to Safely Reopen Your Store After COVID-19

2020 has been a difficult year
for business owners in Australia, and safely reopening your store will likely
be the next step in a long string of challenges that you’ve faced this year.

Here’s what you can do to ensure
that your business reopens safely after COVID-19.

Fill Out a COVID Safety Plan Before
Reopening Your Store

You’ll need to fill out a COVID
Safety Plan. The plan will help guide you through the steps you’ll need to take
to ensure that your store can open safely for your staff and your customers.

For many states and territories,
filling out a COVID-Safety plan is a legal requirement:

Are You
Eligible For Government Support?

With so many
businesses hit hard by the pandemic, many state governments have offered financial
support
in
the form of grants to help local businesses get back on their feet. These
grants can be used for safety equipment, cleaning products, marketing, staff
training and anything else that will help you reopen your store safely.

Before reopening,
check whether you’re eligible for any financial support in your area.

Prepare Your
Staff for the Return to Work

Consider
organising a health and safety training day for your staff. The better-prepared
your staff are to work in a post-COVID-19 workplace, the safer your business
will be for everyone when you reopen.

You may find
that your staff are anxious about returning to work. Before you reopen, it’s best to
check in on your employees to discuss their fears and uncertainties so that you
can take steps to help them with the transition.

Keep Your
Business Flexible with Ecommerce

While many
brick-and-mortar stores have struggled under lockdown, online stores have been
thriving.

With reports of
a 21% rise in online
orders

compared to this time last year, maintaining an online presence, even after
you’ve reopened your physical store, will keep your business flexible and
better prepared to face future difficulties.

While many
customers will shift back to shopping in-store once the danger has passed,
others may choose to continue shopping online, whether out of fear or
convenience. By running your business both online and offline, you can get the
best of both worlds.

In 2019,
ecommerce sales amounted to 3.53 trillion USD, and are projected to grow to 6.54
trillion USD by 2022. Adapting to suit a market that’s rapidly shifting online
will help future-proof your business.

How to Safely Reopen Your Store After COVID-19

Use Social
Media to Keep Your Customers Informed

Social media is
a great way of letting your customers know that you’re planning to reopen your
store, and it’s an excellent opportunity to market your business to new
customers as well.

Currently there
are more people than ever on social media, yet with many businesses tightening
their belts on advertising, the cost of social media advertising has plummeted.
The number of daily active users on Facebook has increased by 11% during the pandemic, while Facebook
ads cost an average of just 81 U.S. cents per thousand impressions, compared
to the 1.88 U.S. dollars recorded in November 2019.

With more people
online, and ads costing less, 2020 may represent a golden opportunity to market
your business on social media.

There are many
ways you can use social media to encourage your customers to return to your
store as you reopen:

  • Offer updates on when you’ll be reopening (a countdown can build anticipation).
  • Organise a (COVID-safe) grand reopening event, perhaps in the form of an offer or deal.
  • Post images demonstrating what steps you’re taking to ensure customer safety. A photo of your staff wearing face masks, or a store set up with perspex safety screens will show your customers that you’re taking their health seriously.
  • Engage with customers on social media to answer questions and allay their fears.
  • It doesn’t all need to be doom and gloom. Try sharing upbeat posts online to show that you’re staying positive as you face the challenges of COVID-19.

Social media is
a great way to incentivise people to return to your store, but don’t forget
that it’s been a difficult time for your customers as well. Try to be patient,
understanding, and sympathetic as your customers emerge from lockdown.

In-store
Precautions That Will Help Your Store Reopen Safely

The safest way
to reopen your store is to make sure you’re offering a safe environment to
begin with.

Alcohol-based
sanitiser should be available at key-points in your store such as doors,
bathrooms and cash registers. You should also make sure regularly-handled
surfaces are sanitised thoroughly and often. This includes door handles,
service desks, tables, and chairs. Mobile germ protection screens can be used to reduce contact between customers, or to section off
‘high-risk’ areas in your store entirely. They can also help your staff
maintain social distancing by establishing one-way pathways through your store
to avoid bottlenecks.

Desk-mountable
partitions

offer easy-to-clean protection for staff at registers, service desks and
information desks, while still allowing face-to-face interaction with
customers.

How to Safely Reopen Your Store After COVID-19

By showing your
customers that you take their health seriously and are willing to go the extra
mile for their safety, you can build a relationship of trust that develops
loyalty for your business. 

Prepare Your
Store for a Post-COVID World

The impact of
COVID-19 will have broad-reaching effects on the way we live and shop. By
adapting to the changing environment as you reopen your store, you can ensure
that your business is set up to meet the requirements of an uncertain future.