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Five Tips for Retailers in the Pandemic

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The future appears to belong to Amazon, Walmart, and all of those other massive cookie-cutter retailers which have survived due to the coronavirus epidemic. Those stores have seen empty shelves while other retailers struggle to keep the lights on. The Journal of Commerce reported that U.S. retail sales in March fell by 6% just compared to the previous month, and retail spending is about 28% of the U.S. GDP. This is horrible news for retailers and by extension the U.S. and global economy.

But retailers now must focus on the very immediate, real threat of how to keep the lights on for another week or month. There are difficult decisions to make here, such as whether filing for government aid is the right move or how to retain cash. Here are some of the most important factors to consider for these difficult times.

  1. Communicate with Employees and Customers

You almost certainly have done this step to some degree at this point in the pandemic. But communication under these rapidly changing circumstances needs to be a constant thing. You should be letting employees know how things are changing in your business, and customers know what you are doing in your community to help others.

Online and social media are your main tools to keep in touch with customers. If you have an email list, send out regular emails letting them know of discounts or new services.

  1. Offer Online Services

Not every business can open up an online storefront, but every business has something which it can advertise online. Creative Cabinets & Faux Finishes is one example. This small retailer is offering digital appointments where customers can consult with professionals about how to refurnish or reface. This service may not earn the business money directly, but it keeps them in the minds of customers and makes them much likely to use Creative Cabinets when they can pay for a refurnishing.

  1. Clean up

Businesses are going to want to look their best, and the coronavirus may be a sign that it is time to redesign your business. That hole in the wall eatery may have been popular pre-coronavirus, but now customers may look at a place like that and decide their health matters more than some food. And if sunlight does have a real effect on the coronavirus as some reporters are currently suggesting, then you will want a retail space filled with sunlight.

Give customers plenty of room to do social distancing, hide cashiers behind plexiglass, and otherwise show your business to be a safe, healthy space.

  1. Create a post-coronavirus plan

No business knows when it will be safe to open, and many businesses will choose to remain closed even when governments give an all clear order. But you should still develop a plan for what to do when that day comes.

What parts of your business can you open up first, and what measures will you take to ensure that employees and customers stay safe? If there is a second wave, how will your second shutdown differ from your first, less planned one? These are just a few basic questions to consider right now.

  1. Train your Employees

Some people are using the coronavirus downtime to learn new skills which will keep them competitive, and companies should be encouraging such behavior. With whatever staff you have left, determine what processes your businesses need to improve on. From there, you can determine what skills your employees will need to improve said processes, and then look on websites such as LinkedIn Learning which offer online classes. This will also improve employee morale and make them feel more involved in their company.

Published: April 30, 2020

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Matthew Davies

Matthew Davies is a creative and passionate HR Director with 15 plus years proven experience up to board level in international and world-class corporations. He has had the privilege of working on a wide range of projects that have enabled him to apply his leadership and technical skills and he have proven expertise in managing change, business integration and outsourcing.

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