Adapting Your Retail Store Operations to Today’s New Normal
As most states begin to allow retail stores to reopen, we’re starting to learn what the “new normal” is for retailers. Many customers are still uncertain about the danger involved with entering public spaces, and are wary of shopping at retail stores. With so many stories circulating about employees getting sick at work, store associates are also anxious about their own safety as customer traffic inevitably increases. This new normal, where customers and associates live with a great deal of uncertainty, means that it’s up to retailers to find ways to reduce this anxiety, implementing new initiatives and strategies to emphasize safety and efficiency at the store.
Successfully adapting your retail store operations to today’s new normal comes down to how efficiently communication can be sent across your organization, and how effectively new initiatives can be set up in stores. Focusing on this is more important now than ever before, as any issues with curbside pickup or any safety concerns can drive customers away in a heartbeat.
Here are a couple tips for how to accomplish these changes:
1. Streamline New Activities Like Curbside Pickup
Customers today prefer contactless shopping options, with curbside pickup more than doubling at retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many retailers are either implementing curbside pickup for the first time or dramatically expanding their curbside pickup services. As with any new initiative, it’s easy for the customer experience to fall short if you don’t have the right tools to simplify new processes for associates.
An appointment booking solution can substantially improve curbside pickup processes, giving customers an easy way to schedule essential services at the store. This gives customers the ability to easily schedule the services they need and make changes to existing appointments, providing them with a seamless brand experience.
This solution has to be built for retail, where it can be aligned with labor schedules and employee availability, as well as in-store workload to account for cleaning and sanitization procedures that accompany curbside pickup services. It also needs to be able to push notifications to store associates’ mobile devices when they have to fulfill a curbside pickup order, ensuring that there isn’t a delay when a customer arrives at the store for their order. Lastly, it needs to provide queue management functionality, so that if there is a delay in curbside pickup fulfillment, customers are notified and know how long it will be until their order is fulfilled.
2. Ensure All Safety Initiatives are Implemented Flawlessly
Even though stores are reopening, the COVID-19 pandemic will impact retail for months to come. As a result, retailers are going to continue to implement and fine-tune safety initiatives, with every change needing to be communicated to field managers, store managers, and store associates. This is no simple task; when store managers are inundated with hundreds of emails that they have to sift through, it’s easy to miss critical communication, which can be disastrous for safety initiatives that have to be carried out consistently across all stores.
A real-time communication system can make it easier to implement new safety initiatives, providing the ability to send critical information across your organization at a moment’s notice, ensuring it reaches the right people at the right time. By giving corporate the ability to instantly send out updated safety procedures to field and store managers, they guarantee that communication is quick and consistent across all stores. This is also useful for store associates who need immediate answers about where to locate PPE or clarification on existing safety policies. Associates can quickly ask questions and send feedback to their managers, receiving the information they need immediately.
Certain real-time communication systems have advantages in a retail environment. These systems can be linked to other critical store operations solutions, such as task management, so communication can be tied to specific tasks and projects. They are also connected to organizational hierarchy, making communication systems secure, organized, and flexible. Lastly, they are auditable, so you can check whether employees are reading and responding to communication as they should be.
To learn more about how to adapt your retail store operations to today’s new normal, check out our recent white paper, “Improving Retail Execution and communication in Times of Uncertainty.”