With a fourth COVID-19 wave happening across North America, what can retailers do to make sure that they can continue to operate against a resurgence of the pandemic? Will potential further Covid-19 outbreaks return us to the retail lockdowns of 2020? Below, we will provide our predictions and recommendations for ensuring retailers survive further lockdown and retail restrictions.
Are Retail Lockdowns Truly Over?
With vaccination rates rising all over the globe, some retail stores have had the opportunity to reopen their brick and mortar stores to the public with fewer restrictions on capacity numbers. While many retailers are rejoicing that they can welcome customers in the flesh again, for others, the concerns over the potential resurgence of COVID-19 during the winter season have their anxiety and stress levels at the max.
This is completely understandable. While it is too early to know whether a COVID-19 resurgence will impact businesses in the same way it did last year, effective planning will be a lifeline if it does. As you may already know, it is predicted that the safety and capacity measures that were put in place over recent months will be here to stay for the foreseeable future (e.g. mask policies in-store etc.).
Yet, it is still too early to tell whether stores will have to shutter their doors once again if cases get too high. While each state and province across North America will have their policies in the event that it does, we all can safely say that we hope retail lockdowns are a thing of the past.
The Worst-Case Scenario: How Should Retailers Prepare?
In the event of a Covid-19 resurgence over the coming months, the worst-case scenario is that brick and mortar stores will be provided with guidelines similar to those that they received during the last year. While you may not want that scenario to take place, by avoiding preparing for it, you’ll be doing your business more harm than good.
While the pandemic made many businesses completely overhaul how their business and stores operate, for others, a potential shutdown of in-store shopping is something that they’re not quite yet ready for. Below are some of our top recommendations for retailers of all sizes to prepare for a winter season of potential lockdown restrictions.
1. Be Transparent With Customers
As you operate alongside the pandemic, make sure that you’re always keeping your customers up to date and informed on how your business is trying to safeguard the business and its customers. Perhaps you have messaging across your website and social media about the precautionary measures that you have in place. Many businesses have been taking advantage of live streaming on Instagram to showcase changes that have been made in-store or even modelling product offerings for those individuals who would rather shop online.
It is also important that you keep your customers informed as to what changes are happening if lockdown restrictions are re-introduced yet again. Keep customers informed if in-store capacity has to be lowered or whether you will be reverting to selling products online only. While your customers will hear these announcements from the government, they also want to hear them from you too.
2. Define Your Retail Space Requirements
Another way that retailers can safeguard their business is by ensuring that they are limiting exposure in-store as much as possible. Retail brands must define their retail space requirements. Just because the government has provided guidelines saying that capacity for retail stores can be 50%, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go against this in the safety of your staff and customers (provided you still comply with government guidelines).
For example, if your retail store is quite small perhaps you will continue to offer shopping by appointment only. Or maybe, you’ll ensure that curbside pick-up is still an option to limit unnecessary footfall. Limiting exposure between your staff and customers is one of the most effective ways of safeguarding your business during a Covid resurgence.
3. Double Down On Your Ecommerce Efforts
The first retail lockdowns made many businesses realize the importance of having an e-commerce site that allowed customers to easily purchase products and get access to customer service from the comfort of their own homes. This meant investing financially in website development, marketing and advertising, as well as social media.
Although we’re currently at a stage in the pandemic when in-store shopping is allowed, now is not the time to leave your e-commerce store by the wayside. Instead, you should be making sure that you’re continuing efforts to stay relevant and accessible online. This will help you remain competitive with other online retailers. Keeping this aspect of your business running will ensure that even if further retail restrictions occur, you’ll still be able to provide your customers with an exceptional shopping experience.
Manufacturer-Retailer Relationship: It Will Be Vital During a Covid-19 Resurgence
As a retailer, we have no doubt that you understand the importance of the manufacturer-retailer relationship, especially in the last year. While all industries were impacted by obstacles during the pandemic, a good partnership with your home décor or bedding manufacturer is key to determining production timelines and ensuring your store can continue meeting customer expectations and demands.
This will be no different in the case of a Covid-19 resurgence. If the worst case scenario does happen, all retail buyers will need to have a transparent conversation with their third-party partners to discuss business objectives and inventory requirements. Manufacturer-retailer relationships that are built on trust, cooperation and mutual best interest will safeguard business continuity, and will ensure that you stay ahead of further disruptions.
At Westex, we understand how vital it is for your business to continue operating (whether in-store or online) during the rest of the pandemic. Regardless of what retail restrictions are, our team will work with your business to ensure that your customers receive high-quality bedding and home décor products each and every time.
We are proud to say that our team is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and our factory is operating at full capacity during this time. Our company has put extensive health and safety measures in place to keep our team and partners safe. For more information on how we are safeguarding our business for a Covid-19 resurgence, get in touch today.
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