COVID-19 Survival Tips for Retailers

COVID-19 Survival Tips for Retailers

👇👇👇 Scroll to Download the PDF Version of our COVID-19 Survival Tips for Retailers!!

For retailers dealing with the impact of COVID-19, shutting down may not be an immediate option, particularly if they are an essential business in their community. Over the past 10 days, we’ve spoken with many small businesses who are looking for ways to better manage the impact. Scroll down for tips on how you can minimize the impact of COVID-19:

Sell Online and Stay in Contact with your Customers

  1. Add or Expand Digital Sales Channels including e-commerce for shipment or pick-up in store. Read more regarding the TAKU special offer to support local businesses who want to start selling online.
  2. Offer Contact-less Options. It is expected that shopper behaviour will be significantly impacted by COVID-19 at least until there is a vaccine developed next year. This means that shoppers will have health and safety top-of-mind for the foreseeable future. Prepare now to make sure you are prepared before your competitors. Take this time to set up “Leave At My Door” delivery options or “pre-scheduled contactless curbside pickup” with orders placed online, by phone, fax or email. These are great options as you have confirmed pre-paid sales before you pack an order, you minimize staff and customer exposure and you avoid the cost of packaging products for shipment.
  3. Make sure you have a Google My Business profile and keep your store hours up-to-date. For a limited time, Google will be showcasing any Posts made on merchant GMB profiles to people searching locally to ensure that local businesses get more coverage in their community. GMB Local Posts are a free (!!) and effective way to stand out in local searches and update shoppers about any new offers, delivery options, etc
  4. Join Local Social Media Support Groups to stay engaged with the community. These are not commercial spaces so don’t sell unless it’s appropriate but find out what your community needs. Here is a great example of a small business that found a way to give back.
  5. Connect with local businesses to pool resources. Large retailers who rely on delivery such as Amazon can’t ship products in a timely manner anymore. There may be an opportunity for your local businesses to step up, particularly if you supply complementary products by offering local delivery together.
  6. Keep an eye out for government Requests for Proposals if you’re in a position to re-tool your business to help address the challenge of COVID-19..
  7. Look for ways to leverage the new â€śStay-at-home Economy,” the new market created by demand from family, friends and children in self-isolation as a result of coronavirus. There are reports of sizable increases in at-home related categories including: personal fitness gear, home office equipment, indoor games, home and garden supplies, educational materials and books, hobbies, entertainment-related electronics, direct-to-consumer (DTC) friendly products suitable for mail-order subscriptions such as coffee, etc.
  8. Keep an eye on your POS sales data to see if there are new trends to make sure you are stocking and promoting the products that shoppers want now vs. what they wanted to buy a few months ago.
  9. Take advantage of marketing offers to get free ad credits to reduce the cost of staying in contact with customers. For example, Google has announced $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in your existing Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across Google advertising platforms.
  10. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to take action. A flexible and adaptable mindset is what will get you through this crisis. The situation is changing day-by-day which means you will need to make adjustments in your response. Even if you come up against resistance in the beginning, shoppers will eventually come around because people still need to buy and consume things.
  11. Expect long-term changes in shopper behavior. While some pre-crisis shopper behavior will return, this pandemic will have long-term impact on general shopping behavior. Make sure you’re aware of those changes and adapt your business to match them. My parents are both over the age of 70 and have never ordered anything online in their lives. While they still prefer shopping in stores, needless to say, they are both avid online grocery shoppers now and will likely continue to buy more online in the future as they find it more convenient for re-stocking.
  12. If sell B2B, find a way to pivot to target recession-resistant or essential companies as they will be the most likely to invest in new products or services.

In-Store Management Tips

1) Encourage Visible Hygiene Management in store by having all staff use gloves or wear masks. Have hand sanitizers readily available at the checkout area, near doors with handles, etc. If possible, have staff wipe baskets or trolley handles before passing them to shoppers.

2) Have clear signage to help customers understand the impact of COVID-19 on your store and what to expect for their shopping experience. Download these signs from CFIB to customize for your own business: Temporary Closure Notice, Safety Notice to Visitors

3) Pre-pack bulk goods such as fresh produce wherever possible to minimize touch. Stop offering samples unless they are pre-packaged.

4) Encourage Social Distance In Store by increasing the space in the checkout area between cashiers and where shoppers are waiting to pay. It’s as simple as adding tape on the floor to clearly show where shoppers need to stand as Walmart has done. Costco has famously used pallets to enforce social distance requirements in an orderly fashion.

Walmart Canada, Peter J. Thompson/National Post
Costco Canada entrance, Toronto, Canada

5) Merchandise for fast retail as most shoppers will be shopping for necessity versus discovery. Keeping in mind the social distance required for safety, you will want to consider moving fast-moving goods in an easier to access location.

6) Put up transparent barriers wherever possible to minimize transmission while protecting staff.

Colemans Foods, Newfoundland, Canada

7) Encourage “Contactless” Payments (e.g. tap or Apple Pay) and discourage the use of cash to protect your staff wherever possible. You may even want to increase your “contactless” limit with your merchant processor but remember that you are liable for any potential chargebacks on “contactless” payments.

8) If you are an essential business that is still sourcing, pay special attention to your supply chain. Anything sourced from areas dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases will need alternatives in place. If necessary, even look at your suppliers’ suppliers for critical products.

9) Minimize Any Processes that Require Touch such as loyalty programs that require a tablet or credit card terminals that require optional prompts. Print out a QR code or signage for your web site and encourage users to sign up on their own phones.

10) Review Receipt Management Procedures to train staff to put receipts directly into shopping bags instead of handing them to customers or, even better, ask if they are ok to receive their receipts by email. Remember that privacy regulations require that you get positive customer consent to save their emails for future use so use an integrated email marketing tool to capture consent that will allow customers to unsubscribe themselves.

11) Sell In Store Gift Cards with an Incentive (e.g. extra $15 for every $100 gift card) to encourage shoppers to come back to the store when things are back to normal.

12) Offer Free Pens to shoppers who don’t have their own. It’s a cost-effective gift that discourages the use of public pens and helps customers remember you. Remember to minimize touch when offering them.

13) Communicate Proper Treatment Procedures when staff are sick. Make sure all managers and staff know what to do when they are sick. There is a lot of information out there – be sure to refer to the most credible medical sources in your country. In Canada, that will mean the public health authorities for your province or territory. In the US, the CDC is a reliable authority for guidance. For further details, you can also review the steps to prepare worksplaces for COVID-19 published by the WHO.

14) Minimize the Number of Shoppers In-Store to protect your own employees and make sure that shoppers are both comfortable and safe while in your store.

15) Encourage or Support Donations of Essential Supplies to local hospitals to protect frontline healthcare workers where supplies are short. This is one of the local PPE (personal protective equipment) drives for the Toronto GTA area.

16) Limit Stock Quantities for any essential household and medical products to avoid stock outs. #WeAreAllInThisTogether


For more information regarding government grants and relief programs, click here.

Taku Retail Video Series: Is Physical Retail Dying?

This week, I sat down with Karen Wong, the CEO and Founder of both ACE POS solutions Ltd. and TAKU Canada Ltd. She stresses that while the retail industry is going through many changes, the reality is that, physical retail is far from dead.

About Our Founder

Before co-founding TAKU Canada, Karen has been a part of several ventures – from being a small retail business owner herself, to working in marketing,manufacturing, and wholesale. Her passion lies in helping retailers sell more by building solutions that drive store growth. 

The goal of this video series is to share Karen’s broad knowledge of retail and marketing with fellow store owners. 

This talk will dive deeper into the importance of physical retail and the pros and cons of physical retail vs. e-commerce. 

Enjoy!

Do You Think Physical Retail is Going to Die?

Everybody has probably heard of the “retail apocalypse” – meaning physical stores are dying. The headlines are all about how the big chains are closing down. But in my opinion, it’s heavily overblown. The reality is that 85% of retail is still physical!

It’s not just about one channel. Increasingly, it’s all about being accessible to customers wherever they are. Because customers don’t just want to engage through shopping – they want to engage through discovery.

store front

What is Shopping and What is Consumption?

There is a difference between shopping and consumption. 

Shopping means that there is a discovery process. It means you are looking for something but you need more information. 

Consumption means you that you are just refilling the pantry. You buy the same brand every time so you just need to find a place to buy it from. In this case, people may just go online. 

grocery store

Why do you Push Physical Retail so Much? 

A lot of our customers are established businesses. That means that they are already profitable businesses with fixed costs. But these fixed costs are covered by the fact that they have ongoing business that covers those costs. 

Retailers should be leveraging their business while trying to grow their physical and digital channels. 

Right now, many of our customers have those established doors and there’s so many reasons you want to push physical retail vs. only e-commerce.

When people say that “I have to go digital, I need to open an e-commerce store”, my first question to them is:  have you optimized everything you are doing in your physical store?

You already pay those fixed costs. Everything you sell, you make a higher margin because your fixed costs are already covered. 

physical retail

What are the Pros and Cons of E-commerce vs. Physical Retail?

There are so many pros and cons to e-commerce. 

Pros: everybody wants to be found immediately and they want their catalog up there – because shoppers like to see that information. But at the same time, there are huge costs associated with e-commerce.

Cons: 

  • People are much more price conscious online vs. in-store.
  • Free shipping is a massive cost. 
  • People are more inclined to return items online. The return rates are proven to be more than double than what they are in-store. People are more likely to return online because there isn’t that interaction where people have guilt involved – when you are returning something to the store and you know it shouldn’t be returned.

So you have to think about these additional costs of going digital. Even though there are supposedly no overhead associated with those sales.

e-commerce

What are the Benefits of Leveraging Physical Retail? 

Other things you want to think about is that if you don’t leverage physical retail, you are missing out on things such as impulse buys. When a person comes into the store looking for one thing, they often leave with multiple things. It happens to me and still happens to me all the time!

You should also consider thinking about cross-selling and up-selling. You have people in the store and you yourself (if you are in the store) are probably the best person to tell people “that item that you’re looking at really goes well with this”. Or maybe even get them to buy something even better than what they were originally considering.

impulse shopping

The Future of Physical Retail 

All of these things and moments are part of the reasons why I don’t think physical retail is going to die. It’s just going to be a major core or focus of retail as we move forward.

I mean after all, you are seeing more and more pure e-commerce businesses are opening physical stores because they’ve realized they can make more money in physical stores than they can online.

It means more engaged customers that come back with repeat business.

retail mall

Data Analytics in Retail 

Another thing that you want to note is data analytics in retail(this is where I talk a lot to customers about using technology). Those stores are famous for using data and using the data well to make sure that everything they are doing in that physical store is being driven by some type of statistic or analytics.

This is kind of my reason for encouraging customers to really reconsider re-vamping or reviewing the operations of their physical store first.

retail analytics

We hope you enjoyed the first episode of our video series! Subscribe to our Youtube channel to stay updated on upcoming videos. 

#physicalretail #talkswithtaku #retailpos #cloudpos #sellmorewithtaku #retailsales #retailmarketing