We know a lot of small businesses don’t want to address the current COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve hesitated ourselves. And we’re scared and worried, too. It’s a monumental threat that none of us have ever lived through, and, the biggest fear is of what’s next in the coming weeks and months.
For now, like the rest of the country, and most of the world, we’re following protocols and trying to do our part in preventing the spread of the virus. And we’re also trying to be hopeful. We hear a whole lot about the bad stuff, but let’s also remind ourselves and each other of some of the better news: China and Korea are beginning their returns to normalcy, more recoveries are reported every day, communities are coming together to help those in need, and dolphins are swimming through the canals of Venice!
Undoubtedly, this will be a challenging next few months. And it’s hard to conduct business with so much up in the air. But let’s take a few minutes to look ahead and remember that we’re all in this together. We will come back from this and your business and ours will be thriving again. In the meantime, we wanted to offer a few ways for how retailers can deal with COVID-19 and cushion the financial impact of this pandemic. Oh, and to all of those who have called to inform us that coronavirus sounds awfully similar to their amazing POS software, WE KNOW haha.
A lot of the measures currently being advised of businesses may seem extreme. And they are. But, of course, the situation is extreme. And in an effort to lessen its impact, we all need to take various precautions.
If your retail business is still open, it’s important to keep all areas as clean as possible. Most importantly, these include places that are commonly frequented by guests and staff:
Entrances and exits
Point of purchase area
POS and credit card machines
Shopping carts and baskets
Additionally, you want to be sure that your staff are using gloves for all hand-to-hand transactions. Give them some hand sanitizer to keep at your register for both them and your shoppers.
These basic cleanliness measures are important to keep, pandemic or otherwise. Once this is all over, keep up with these habits to make sure you have an impeccable retail space.
2. Take Care of Your Team
Start by keeping them informed with the current status of your business. It’s important that everyone is on the same page. Even though the situation is dynamic and rapidly changing, it’s important to minimize any additional surprises.
We’re all very stressed about the situation. As a business owner, you’re responsible for keeping the business afloat and running, which includes the livelihoods of each of your team members. Whether you have a staff of 2 or 200, the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot on the line.
Take inventory of where your staff is at from a financial perspective. Figure out what they might need should your store have to shut down for a few weeks. Many small businesses simply can’t afford to pay hourly workers for an extended period of downtime, but if you can help at all, do so. Your employees will come back that much stronger.
Additionally, if you’re able to stay open, make sure that you have a decent paid time-off policy to allow people to stay home if they’re feeling ill. We can’t afford to carelessly spread the virus to new people because of unfriendly PTO or sick leave policies. Be clear with your team members that they should absolutely stay home with no fear of repercussions should they feel unwell.
3. Don’t Panic
It’s important that we minimize the panic surrounding this situation. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, we don’t know what the world is going to look like on the other side of it. But, collective panic won’t help. Just like individuals, businesses shouldn’t overstock on items or buy additional items that aren’t necessary to stay open.
If you have some spare items, share them with your staff.
4. Reach Out to Your Shoppers
It’s important to keep your customers updated on the status of your business. In many states, the COVID-19 virus has already deeply affected local communities with mass closure of all non-essential businesses. For the time being, most states have a rough timeline for such closures, but it varies on the type of business that you have. Avoid confusion among your customer base by doing so.
Despite the shelter-in-place orders across the country, some retailers are allowed to stay open:
eCommerce businesses can still ship products to shoppers across the country. Shipping providers are still open and carrying goods around the world.
Convenience stores that sell gasoline are also allowed to stay open in most places.
Grocery stores are largely open and stocked (don’t hoard!).
Drug stores and pharmacies are remaining open.
A lot of QSRs are also allowed to keep their doors open. Many states have yet to shut down delivery and to-go services.
The status of each of these businesses can change day by day, so it’s important to let your customers up-to-date on any changes to your hours.
Also, for some of these business types, hours are now different for senior shoppers. Make sure to update your website, social media, and all review sites with this new information.
5. Ramp Up Your eCommerce Operation
Most small businesses already have a presence in the eCommerce world. Whether yours is a hybrid of brick and mortar and eCommerce or solely eCommerce, up your efforts to sell more online. Remember, there are a whole lot of people out there who have nothing better to do than some casual online shopping while at home!
Start with a few promotions to remind shoppers that you’re still open and shipping. If you sell health related items, highlight those and offer your customers a great deal. Encourage your shoppers to stay healthy and take care of themselves.
Also, sell more gift cards. If your business is struggling during this time, ask your loyal shoppers to help out by purchasing gift cards that they can use down the road. This will help lessen the financial blow from a slow couple weeks or months.
If you don’t have an eCommerce shop set up yet, it’s not hard to get started! Make sure you use a platform that integrates with your point of sale system, like KORONA does with WooCommerce. This keeps your entire product catalog under a single system, making sure your store is organized and running efficiently. Most eCommerce platforms are simple to set up and even free to use. If you need help, please give us a call!
6. Check Off Some Big Items on Your To-Do List
Many businesses have some extra downtime right now. And with many cities quarantining, there’s only so much Netflix that we can really handle. Use the added downtime to tackle some bigger projects.
Streamline your scheduling with a new system
Organize your inventory
Analyze your sales with new metrics and KPIs
Change up some product displays
Devise a new promotion
Improve your website
Clean up your online presence on social media and review sites
Add your products to new sales channels
Doing so will leave your store in a better position to recover quickly from the next few weeks and months. You’ll thank yourself later for it.
7. Stay Informed
It’s times like this that remind us we all need to work together to get through major hurdles in life. By all staying informed and educated on the evolving situation we’ll be more likely to get through it faster and with fewer people infected.
So be responsible with your business. We’re all excited to be back to normal with retail shops, restaurants, museums, and theme parks packed with happy shoppers. But for the time being, just take some time to relax and reset. The financial impact of this situation is grave, but the sooner it’s over, the sooner we’ll be on the road to recovery.
At KORONA, we’re all working remote but we’re still here for our customers with the same 24/7 support. And for those still shopping for a new POS system, our sales team is here, too! They’d be happy to schedule a demo and walk you through our software – they just might be in their pajamas.
Among other things, Michael writes about trends and tips in retail for KORONA POS. His focus is on bringing small business owners a more holistic approach to growth. In his spare time, you'll find him hiking somewhere in the southwest. Connect with him on LinkedIn.