Countries in the world have slowly re-opened their businesses under strict laws and regulations. We start accepting this situation as our new normal. There will be various challenges within this circumstance as buyers change their shopping habits completely. In the article today, we will discuss some steps merchants can take to run their retail store in the new normal state.
What Is The New Normal?
We would say the easiest way to understand the new normal is doing business during a pandemic. There are three trends that retailers should take into consideration when doing business in this new situation:
- The economic conditions would be negatively affected, including the decrease in disposable income and an increase in the unemployment rate. In the U.S, consumer spending dropped 7.5% in March 2020. Meanwhile, in Europe, it is forecasted that 12 million full-time jobs will be reduced due to COVID-19.
- Health and safety now act as the top priority when consumers choose which store to shop. Retail stores where the cleaning and disinfecting protocols are taken seriously will leave a good impression as it shows the retailers care about the shoppers’ health and well-being.
- Even though the physical store still opens, a significant amount of customers will move to online shopping due to social distancing. Therefore, sellers should focus more on their online presence to attract their target market.
How Retailers Can Meet Customer Expectations In The New Normal?
Focus On Digital: Online and Social Media Store
Retailers can expect foot traffic diminishing in physical stores and boosting investments in the online segment instead. This trend requires them to reallocate funds for offline media to digital channels. With more focus on online channels, sellers are adapting their strategies for the shifts in consumer behavior in the new normal.
These adaptations include but are not limited to paying closer attention to paid search (for example, looking at not just keyword performance but also consumer intent) and improving the ‘shoppability’ of social channels (add products and clickable content on Instagram).
Furthermore, retailers should ensure site speed, stability, and delivery times when setting up their online and social media store. Make sure the product information is clear. Don’t stock too many goods on one page to avoid confusion!
Protect Customers and Staff When They Are In-Store
Following a cleaning checklist is critical during the pandemic as it ensures your stores meet the hygiene standards. Each store can have different protocols. However, it should basically contain the following steps:
- Maintain safe practices – offering hand gel to customers, checking temperature, wearing masks, or even gloves if needed.
- Clean surfaces with soap and water first, then use disinfectant
- Use the appropriate cleaning or disinfectant product – check the product label to make sure it meets your needs
- Keep the routine cleaning and disinfection
Doing so not only protects the customers, but it also creates a good reputation for your retail store as it shows that you care about the customer’s safety. Also, when seeing that you are doing all the necessary steps in disinfecting, your employees will feel safe when working for you. At the end of the day, your employees are the front-line workers where they expose to many risks of being infected. Therefore, they will appreciate it when knowing that you are taking their safety seriously in the new normal state.
Adopt New Shipping And Pick Up Protocols
Within the traditional shipping method, retailers should add the cleaning and sanitizing stage into the process in the new normal. Even though there is no face-to-face interaction between the employees and the customers, there is still a chance of transmitting the virus through the packages.
In addition to shipping, drive-through, curbside pickup, or buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) model should be implemented in retail stores. It is better to give customers more options on how to deliver goods to them rather than just keeping the traditional shipping method in this new normal state.
Learn A Lesson From China
The Chinese market is slowly opened up. The government has required face masks and temperature scanning before entering any store, along with offering home delivery. As a result, statistics showing the opening rate of the supermarket industry in China reached 95% while department stores and shopping centers have recovered to 85% open.
Even though doing business during a pandemic is not ideal, China is evidence that businesses can run normally and safely in this situation if they take all the precautionary steps seriously.
Through this article, we hope to give you a sense of how to run your retail store in the new normal. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions!