The early days of the coronavirus pandemic involved strict quarantines, in which online shopping largely replaced in-person retail. Now that consumers have adjusted to this way of life, they’ve been asked to change it up again in reopened stores with new protocol. These rules and procedures can feel overwhelming at times, but they also make vulnerable customers feel safe and respected.
Not sure how to comfort consumers as they return to your store? Keep reading to discover the most effective options for keeping them engaged during this difficult time:
Highlight In-Store Cleanliness & Safety Protocol
Customers want to know that the stores they patronize take their safety seriously. These measures may help:
Use Signs to Promote Store Cleanliness
Signs placed near the entrance and throughout the store can convey your commitment to keeping customers safe. Highlight the many safety precautions you’ve enacted, such as sanitizing surfaces, requiring masks, or training employees on how to minimize contact. These signs will provide peace of mind while also setting the standard for how customers should behave.
Provide Hand Sanitizer And Wipes
Before they even enter your store, patrons should be able to use hand sanitizer and wipes. Make these essentials available free of charge near the entrance. Additionally, place hand sanitizer stations throughout the premises so that customers can continue to use it as needed.
Place Tape on Sidewalks & Checkout Lines
Customers generally know that they should remain six feet apart, but actually carrying out this requirement can prove surprisingly difficult. The CDC recommends that businesses provide guidance with tape or other markers, which can be placed at six-feet intervals near the checkout area or in any other locations that might attract crowds.
Install Plastic Barriers at Registers
Checkout and payment represent the riskiest aspects of the modern in-person shopping experience. Masks help, but customers will feel even more comfortable if the employees manning the cash registers are protected by specially designed barriers. These can provide plenty of coverage while still allowing for a seamless checkout process.
Establish Staff Safety Protocols
Customers cannot possibly feel safe if staff members fail to abide by basic hygienic standards. Hence, the need for strict protocol regarding sanitization and social distancing. Don’t be afraid to get into specifics regarding customer interactions, facility cleanliness, and the use of masks. The more clarity exists surrounding these concerns, the better both your staff members and your customers will feel.
Reassure with Fond Familiarity
Despite your efforts to enact measures that limit the spread of the disease, you may continue to struggle to convince customers to visit in person. While some will respond to information about safety protocol, others an emotional appeal to get them through the door. Try a nostalgic approach to remind them why they love your business. This, combined with a perception of safety, may be enough to get even the most reluctant individuals to visit your business.
Customer support workers can play an important role in reassuring patrons. They provide a friendly face and kind feedback, both of which can be difficult to capture with online services. If, however, you’re forced to limit the number of employees within your location, many businesses are using cardboard cutouts to put customers at ease. These provide a human element that many people will find comforting.
While limited capacity requirements can make stores feel depressingly empty, cutouts do a surprisingly effective job of delivering the positive vibes that once accompanied the hustle and bustle of retail.
Go Online & Let Customers Know
No matter how hard you work to get customers visiting your physical location, some will remain reluctant to leave home. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to serve these anxious consumers. Continue to provide the digital options that proved so vital in the early days of the pandemic. Delivery, curbside pickup, and swift shipping allow customers to secure the products and services they desire without needing to worry about COVID.
Your site can be used not only as an alternative to visiting locations in person but also, as a spot for highlighting information about current store policies. A brief stop at your website should reveal whether you’re open for in-person visits. Your website should also detail the many steps you’ve taken to keep customers safe. Be sure to make this information available on your company’s various social media accounts.
Remind Customers About Terms of Guarantee, Money Back & Return Policies
Customers are more fickle than ever in light of the uncertainty surrounding COVID and the economy. Many will not purchase products or invest in services without the option to get their money back. For this reason, it’s important to make them well aware of return policies and other guarantees. Be sure to abide by this protocol, or you could have a problematic PR situation on your hands.
Offer Product Trials
Get customers familiar with your products by offering trials on top items. Let them know that, if they’re not satisfied, they’re welcome to keep select products without paying a cent. If customers are worried about picking up these products in person, arrange for curbside pickup, or better yet, delivery. Trials can also work wonders for some service-oriented businesses.
Highlight Charitable Contributions
Customers love to see the businesses they patronize supporting the local community and it highly impacts their purchasing decisions. This is especially true during these trying times when many charities require more assistance than ever.
Many consumers are entirely unaware of how far their favorite businesses go to help out. Let them know by highlighting these efforts through digital marketing or with displays throughout your store. Options for giving back include:
- Providing meals, snacks, or coffee to frontline medical workers — free of charge
- Contributing masks or cleaning supplies to local health care facilities
- Donating a portion of the proceeds from a specific product to trusted charities
- Offering to match charitable contributions made by customers
Like it or not, the world of retail is about to undergo some significant changes. Customers might initially be reluctant to visit stores in person or abide by updated safety protocol, but they’ll come around. A little guidance can go a long way, so don’t hesitate to think outside of the box as you make every effort to help consumers feel safe and comfortable in these strange times.