Retail Checklist: How to Safely Reopen Your Retail Shop
On the 15th June, the UK's retailers will start reopening their doors to the world in what is one of the biggest signs we're getting back to normal since lockdown began. It's huge. It's massive. And it fills us all with hope and optimism. However, retailers up and down the country will also have to be incredibly careful and diligent before they begin flipping the signs on their doors to "open" in order to keep everyone that sets foot in their store as safe as possible.
Where possible, we still urge all retailers to try and do as much business as they can online, but for those that haven't got that option, or can't sustain their business online alone, it's so important that your re-opening plan is both thorough and realistic in order to keep the health of your employees and customers the main priority. As our grandma's used to remind us all the time, slow and steady keeps us all safe.
So, to help you reopen your store safely, we've come up with a reopening checklist that will cover everything from your store and your stock to your employees. And, remember, only open if you are 100% happy with the measures you have put in place -- rushing in will only put your business (and people) at risk.
Getting Your Store Ready
Step 1: Know when and if you’re allowed to reopen
Before you do anything, make sure you consult your local authorities, read their guidelines and make sure your plan to open follows the law. As it stands, there are some restrictions on what sort of retailers are allowed to reopen, so make sure you are absolutely in the know. To do this:
Check with your commercial landlord to see whether they have their own policies for re-opening.
Step 2: Assess how prepared you are for safe social distancing
The priority right now is safety and government guidelines state that all retailers must adhere to the safe social distancing protocols of keeping two metres between people to prevent the spread of coronavirus. To manage this in your store, consider the following:
Set a maximum occupancy: this only has to be temporary, but it's crucial all stores set a maximum occupancy limit that will allow your employees and customers to keep two metres apart at all times. We recommend hiring Safehouse Security to help you establish this level of order if need be.
Create a one-way system: how your customers move through your shop will be essential to social distancing, so make sure you create a one-way system and establish queue markers a safe distance from one another.
Easy access to hand-wash or sanitiser: add sanitiser and hand-washing facilities throughout your store so that both customers and employees are able to sanitise their hands frequently before touching anything.
Fitting rooms: the current government guidelines suggest stores keep their fitting rooms closed until further notice due to challenges of operating them safely.
Frequent-touch products: assess which (if any) products in your store could be considered high contact and then consider a way to minimise this from happening, whether that's with signs, having a sanitiser stop next to it or changing your system so that employees have to bring certain products to customers.
Step 3: Regularly cleaning your store
When news of the coronavirus first broke and the "stay safe" message became a part of everyday life, everyone's reaction was to “disinfect everything,” which made total sense. But Public Health England recommends cleaning as well as disinfecting, so here's what you should do:
Start by checking any mechanical, ventilation, water and/or gas systems in your store to ensure nothing is faulty or needs maintenance -- and be as thorough as possible. Your employees will have enough to consider and worry about without dealing with a technical emergency.
Hire a professional cleaning service to thoroughly clean and disinfect your store from top-to-bottom. This should be done before any employees arrive for their first shifts and then done regularly each week.
Establish a cleaning plan to give you, your employees and your customers peace of mind. You can read our full guide here, but whatever strategy you adopt, make sure you frequently clean any surfaces that are touched regularly, such a self-service checkouts, trollies, baskets, tills and POS systems etc.
Step 4: Clearly communicate your new safety measures
For a lot of your customers, perception will be reality and so they may feel safer shopping from you if you clearly communicate your new policies and the safety measures you have put in place before they even consider step through your door. This should be added to your website, your Goggle listing and placed in the windows of your shop, and should include:
Your occupancy limits: make sure you state how many customers are allowed in your store at any one time, that you are operating a one-out one-in policy and you are enforcing a strict two metre social distancing rule.
Any alternative shopping methods you offer: whether you have an online store, a click and collect service, or a home-delivery option, make sure you clearly state the ways in which your customers can shop with you so they're aware they don't have to come inside.
Highlight you cleaning strategies: for peace of mind, add a poster to your window that clearly states your cleaning regime to help your customers feel safe about shopping in your store.
While the new normal has quickly taken hold, a lot of your customers may find it hard to break out of their old habits when they walk into your store, and will end up touching things they don't buy. To reduce this from happening, try placing friendly reminders throughout your shop telling customers to avoid contact where possible.
Step 5: Stock up on PPE and cleaning products
In order to safely reopen (and make your employees and customers feel safe), you’ll need a supply o PPE your employees can use. This equipment should include:
Masks: The UK government has now started advising the use of masks in all retail stores. But in any case, by supplying them for your employees -- and strongly encouraging their use -- you'll give both your employees and customers confidence in your practises.
Safe disposal: all used PPE should be disposed of safely, in a closed container that is kept separate from all other waste collection.
Effective cleaning supplies: for a full list of effective cleaning tools, please click here.
Step 6: Change how you accept payments
The safest way to accept payments for everyone in your store is going contactless. As such, we strongly recommend you:
Consider temporarily stopping customers from making cash payments.
Set up an integrated payment system so your employees don't need to touch the payment terminal as much as normal.
Go paperless by implementing a policy whereby all receipts are sent via email.
Encourage the use of contactless/tap payments to reduce the amount of time your customers and employees spent in contact with your payment systems.
Getting your employees ready
Step 1: Establish a transition plan
In order to reduce any unnecessary risks, don't bring back all of your employees at once. Instead, assess your current team and come up with a system that means the minimum number of employees are needed in your store at any one time. Look to see which of your staff is able to work from home, reorganise your team's shifts to make social distancing easier and find ways for your employees to work 6 metres apart while doing their jobs. To do this safely:
Create a "back to work" team that can help you safely reopen your store. This team will need to take ensure the in-store experience is safe for everyone that enters your store, meaning their roles will need to include regular cleaning checks, stock-checking your PPE, ensuring your cleaning supplies are appropriate and having the authority to send any employees home that are showing symptoms (should you not be around).
Establish a staggered return for your employees instead of bringing all your employees back to work at once. You may also want to use reduced operating hours until everyone understands your new operating policies.
Openly communicate with your employees so that they have plenty of time to prepare for their return and arrange what might needed arranging, such as child care.
Step 2: Create hygiene and safety guidelines
In order to reopen safely and maintain those levels of care, you need to make sure all your employees are up to speed on your new policies and are fully trained on both your hygiene guidelines and cleaning protocols. To do this, try posting all your updates throughout your store and make everyone understand just how serious it is they are upheld. To do this effectively:
Educate all your employees on your new cleanliness guidelines: no matter what position they hold or how senior they are, every one of your employees should be given thorough training on your new cleaning guidelines.
Establish a strict cleaning schedule: Ask your employees to keep regular logs of how often your store is cleaned, at what time, by who and using what measures, and make sure they know this is part of their new job role. if this isn't possible, then consider hiring a professional cleaning service that can manage this side of your business safely and effectively.
Highlight the crucial areas: in addition to creating a regular cleaning initiative, make sure you establish specialised cleaning policies that requires any high-touch surfaces to be disinfected after each customer leaves and all high-traffic areas to be fogged at the end of each week.
Getting your stock ready
Understand how you’ll handle new and returned stock
According to WHO, COVID-19 can survive up to 72 hours on plastic and up to 24 hours on cardboard, which is why you should play it safe and create a plan for dealing with any new and returned stock. This plan should include:
Contactless deliveries, whereby you only require an e-signature for deliveries
Clean and isolate new stock: using the disinfectants you've stocked up on, make sure you clean any new shipments to arrive at your store and then isolate these packages for at least two days before adding the stock to your store's shelves -- and make sure everyone that handles these shipments thoroughly washes their hands afterwards.
Reassess your returns policy: until we understand more about Covid-19, we recommend you temporarily suspend returns If that's not possible, make sure all products are thoroughly sanitises and quarantined as soon as they are returned.
Get ready to reopen safely
The priority is safety. It's making sure you, your employees and your customers are not at any risk when they enter your store, so don’t rush your reopening. Take it steady, be thorough, assess every aspect of your business, hire a professional cleaning company to clean and disinfect your store, and then only open your doors when you are absolutely sure you can uphold social distancing and sanitisation guidelines to minimise the risk and spread of COVID-19.
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