As we have been discussing for the past couple of months, these are unique times we are experiencing. However, we can now look forward and begin to see a return to normalcy. There will be intermediate steps along the way. So, our question is, what are you planning to do during a partial or soft re-opening? We have compiled a list of ideas that we have heard from other retailers across the country to help you plan for your eventual soft retail re-opening.
1. Announce it!
Let your customers know that you are open for business. Use your social media, email marketing, mail a postcard, call them, hang a banner across your storefront. However, you can get the word out, let your customers know you are open! In addition, let them know what steps you are taking to keep everyone safe. Are you requiring masks? Are there limits to the number of people who are allowed in your store at once? How are you ensuring your employees are also safe? Post these guidelines on your website, at your entrance, and at the cash wrap.
2. Shop by appointment
Offer your customers the ability to shop by appointment. Set aside time in the day that your store is closed to the public and shopping is done by appointment only. This will provide a space for your customers that may still have reservation about going out in public spaces. Keep the appointment time consistent so customers know you are closed to the public during that time. Also, change the times and days to accommodate people’s schedules. An example: Shopping by appointment is available every Tuesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday evening.
3. Send a Personal Invitation
Make your most loyal customer feel special. Send them a personal invitation to shop. Chances are they have missed visiting. Reward them by setting aside a special day or time just for them to shop.
4. Organize to Shut Down Main Street
You may be in an area that still will not allow customers in your store. Organize with the other retailers and restaurants in your neighborhood to “Shut Down Main Street.” The idea is to create an experience for customers outside. Shut down the street in front of your store. Set up outside displays. Serve food at outdoor seating areas. Hire performers to play music or put on a show.
5. Shop By Window
Create a window display that allows your customer to “shop” without coming into your store. Set up your display with product or bundles and then number each product or bundle. If need be include a “key” or list posted in the window describing each bundle. if the customer likes something they see, allow them to order over the phone, via email or on your website. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but if you are not allowed to let customers in your store yet this allows them to window shop, literally.
6. Cross-promote with a restaurant
Restaurants have been feeling the same pain retailers have been, too. Help each other out by doing a cross-promotion. Ask a neighboring restaurant if they would like to offer your customers a discount with a purchase from your store. Return the favor if a customer orders carry out from the restaurant. Expand each other reach by promoting it on social media and through your email marketing campaigns.
7. Continue or Start Facebook Live Events
If you have been doing Facebook Live through stay at home rules, good for you! Keep it up! It is a great way to connect with your customers. If you have not been doing it, it’s not too late. Even if you are allowed to have a limited number of people in your store, some customers may not be comfortable going out again. Doing a product review or virtual shopping through Facebook Live allows customers to experience your store without having to be there.
8. Curbside Pick Up
If you are not already offering curbside pickup you need to start. Allow your customers to order over the phone or online. Tell them you will meet them at the curb to hand them their purchase. No need for them to get out of the car! Drop items in their trunk for a touchless delivery.
9. Sell Online
If you don’t have an online shop for your store, create one. You should have one anyway, but now is a great time to get it going. This one may take a couple of days to complete, but with the tools available today anyone can do it. There are a ton of services out there that can help you get started like Shopify. If this feels like the one thing you don’t want to tackle yourself, let us know. We know people that can help you out.
10. Host Online Shopping Parties
If you have an online shop this is a great little feature you can add. There is a service called Squadded, that you can add to your online store. It allows your customers to shop, online, together, as if they were shopping in person. It allows them to share products, comment, select favorites, ask for advice or recommendation, all online!
Getting a soft retail re-opening plan together is will help you make a smooth transition to fully opening up your store. If you need additional help we have other resources here. And, as always the best resource is your local rep. Connect with them to help you implement your soft retail re-opening plan.