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Planning Your Retail Comeback: 3 Strategies to Reopen Your Retail Store During the Pandemic

submitted on 17 September 2021 by
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses across the globe. As fear, paranoia, and grief became the most defining emotions of 2020, consumers retreated into their homes. Government guidelines and stay-at-home orders further prevented them from venturing into the outside world.

So, it isn't surprising that nearly 41% of businesses that shut their doors during the pandemic have resorted to permanent closures. Brick and mortar retailers have been among the hardest hit.

The convenience and safety net of online shopping combined with quarantine and social distancing guidelines have left retailers grappling to attract foot traffic and sales. The easing of restrictions and ongoing vaccination drives are finally bringing a ray of hope for these business owners.

But 67% of consumers are still uncomfortable with the idea of visiting a retail clothing store. That means reopening your brick-and-mortar establishment isn't going to be easy.

Should You Even Think About Reopening?
It's natural to wonder whether reopening your retail store is a good idea at all. Isn't it wiser to draw the curtains on your store and launch an e-commerce business instead? Wouldn't it be easier to reach target consumers using various digital channels, and drive conversions on your website?

There's no denying that the e-commerce sector will continue to thrive and grow after the pandemic is over. But that also means you'll have to face stiff competition from other retailers. Standing out amidst the crowd of lookalike online stores will be a challenge.

Also, it's worth remembering that consumers will eventually crave the hands-on shopping experience of brick-and-mortar stores. When the pandemic is brought under control, consumers will yearn to go back to their old lives that involved going out for a day of shopping, dining, and other activities.

With more retailers jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon, you've got the perfect opportunity to maximize foot traffic. You just need to define an effective strategy to reopen your store. It involves prioritizing employee and customer safety, as well as realigning your business model with pandemic-driven restrictions.

In the following sections, we'll discuss a few important tips to help you restart your brick-and-mortar retail business. Let's take a look.

Modify Your Infrastructure
Your business likely uses a diverse array of physical facilities, including the storefront, cash counters, office, customer helpdesk, etc. The first step is to assess whether you still need the entire establishment.

For instance, if you're planning to let customers purchase online and collect orders from your store, you don't need the space to display all your products. Similarly, if you offer augmented reality (AR) powered digital kiosks, you can do away with trial rooms.

Figure out ways to modify your store layout to maximize space utilization while adhering to social distancing protocols. Also, consider whether you want to repurpose or lease excess space to other businesses.

Leverage Modern Tech Innovations
It's a good time to identify tech innovations that can be used to minimize contact and interaction among staff and customers. AI-powered self-checkout kiosks, digital catalogs, AR-based changing rooms - you can use various types of technology to facilitate contactless transactions.

Also, it's important to equip your premises with safety and hygiene equipment, such as automatic hand sanitizer dispensers and thermal scanners. Check your existing equipment, including lighting systems, generators, computer hardware, etc., to ensure that they're in proper working condition.

For instance, if your store's electric generator malfunctions, it can render all your self-checkout and safety systems useless if there's a power outage. That's why it is necessary to check the fuel and coolant levels before you resume operations. You can click here to find out more about the potential factors that could cause an electric generator to malfunction.

Similarly, you must ensure that all devices in your store have easy access to high-speed internet. It's particularly important for self-checkout systems and digital kiosks. 

Re-align Your Business Model
Next, you need to check the latest local and federal regulations about reopening physical stores in your area. Find out what kind of safety protocols you're required to implement for the wellbeing of your customers and staff.

Also, it's a good idea to evaluate whether your current business model will continue to be profitable in light of the new guidelines. Otherwise, you'll need to devise a new business plan that generates a sizable revenue while complying with COVID-safety guidelines.

Just because your retail store has been struggling with declining sales and revenue, you don't have to call it quits. The right strategy will help you revive your business, even during the pandemic, and attract new customers. Focus on using technology to minimize human interaction and contact at the store. Also, modify your store layout to facilitate social distancing.
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