Your Store has Reopened, Now What?

Retailers were left behind by the COVID-19 shut down and everyone is now playing catch-up. You still have to operate a store, in addition to keeping customers and associates safe by following the guidelines set forth by your state or community. Keep your eyes on the future. You must be ready for the Black Friday and Holiday 2020. These are the areas you should keep on your To-Do list:

There are two stores available right now.If you sell online during the COVID-19 shutdown, you can continue to do so via Facebook Live or other social medias. You have customers in both locations now. Don’t forget to bring the same event you ran in your physical store over to your online store.

You can plan in-store events and promotions:There are many options for brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retailers. TV, catalogs and other media outlets all have their sights on you, all trying to grab your customers’ attention. Be prepared to have one major and one or two minor events on your promotional calendar as we move into summer and autumn. Then, follow up with the same number of events for each week of the year.

Each event should be planned, purchased featured products bought, and your team must get involved. Although it is a smart idea, in-store events don’t always mean that you can run a sale. You can do makit & takits, demos, seminars, vendor days – your options are endless.

You can train and hire your team.It’s impossible to do it all by yourself. You need strong partners to help you.

You should be specific about who you are looking for and what the job requires. Although you can talk about customer service and product features, it is not possible to teach how to do the job well. When you bring new employees onboard, make sure they are trained for the whole year. Also, you’ll want to adopt the Buddy System so that each new hire has a mentor who can help them learn about your store and the products they sell.

Make a Never Out List.A “Never Out” list is a must for every retailer. It lists all the items you should have in stock at all times. This list is even more important during peak seasons. A sale can be made or broken by being out of any of these items. This list will be generated automatically by your POS system. However, it is important to regularly count the items to ensure that you have the correct number.

Sell, sell, and SELL gift cardsGift cards are your secret weapon. You’ll notice that we used the word gift CARDS. A recent study has shown that gift cards sales increase by 35 to 50% when retailers switch from gift certificates made of paper to gift cards made of plastic.

You’ll be happy to know that 55 percent of gift-card recipients need to make more than one trip to the store in order to spend their remaining balance. The thing is, a gift card or certificate presented in a plain paper envelope or sleeve doesn’t seem like much even if it costs a lot. Gift cards should be packaged in a unique way that reflects the products you are selling.

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Make a Weekly Bag Stuffer.Bag stuffers can be created on your computer and are very easy to create. Use your latest email blast or vendor-produced POP materials to stamp your store’s information. Or, you can create a bag stuffer that you designed to encourage customers to return to your shop. If you just stuff them in bags, you are wasting paper and a chance. It’s more practical to give your bag stuffers to customers and explain what they are. It’s a 30-second one-on-one commercial.

Be sure to keep your return policy competitive.Your policy should be clear that you will not accept returns or exchanges from your competitors. No! NO! Customers will shop elsewhere. Here’s where to start if you don’t have a returns policy.“Returns and Exchanges are gladly accepted within ______ Days. It is guaranteed by your receiptIt will save you more sales if all of your associates are trained to politely offer a gift card or exchange before offering a refund.

You should be prepared for markdownsIt is smart to have a markdown strategy for each piece of merchandise you buy. It is important to decide which merchandise will be marked down, at what price, and how it will have its signature (numbers work better that percentages). Also, where the merchandise will be displayed on the sales floor. If you don’t have a huge sale, place clearance merchandise near the back of your store. This will make it easier for shoppers to find it without having to go through other product displays.

This is exhausting. Retailing requires long hours, managing multiple tasks and lighting fires. You can make it easier by creating a solid plan. Start planning now if you haven’t!