By Lyn M. Falk, Retailworks, Inc.
COVID-19 has certainly altered the retail shopping landscape, at least for the time being.
No one knows how long things will remain in their current state, but it’s imperative to make sure our shopping environments are safe, informative and upbeat. And if you think about it, shouldn’t all retail businesses always be safe and informative and upbeat, even without the threat of COVID?
By now, most retailers know the basics of what they have to do. Specifically:
- Post signs or floor markers noting 6-foot distancing
- Set up hand sanitizing stations at each entrance
- Offer face masks (free or for sale) if the store, city or state has a mask-wearing policy or mandate
- Offer curbside pickup
- Limit the number of patrons in your store at one time
See also: Adapting to the ‘New Normal’: An AVB Checklist
But what other things can you do to create a special shopping experience in these coronavirus times? As you know, the experience often starts with your website, then moves to your storefront and then to the interior of your store. Here are a couple of tips to help you create that omnichannel experience.
Website: Showcase Your Showroom
Hopefully you’ve had some time during the shutdown (even if you remained open, perhaps you had some extra time) to make sure your website was up to date — and spectacular. Your website is often your customer’s first impression of your business, so your home page should immediately intrigue and inform. Post pictures of your fabulous store (exterior and interior), including cool displays you’ve created, and share them on social media platforms as well.
Invite people to come visit your store. List the precautions you are taking and assure them that all staff are practicing COVID-prevention measures. And consider adding a live chat feature if you haven’t already; it’s a great way to create immediate engagement.
Store Exterior: Punch it Up!
Do something fun with your exterior and/or parking lot. Add branded banners or flags to attract attention. Put out tables with umbrellas near your entrance. Offer outdoor consultations along with free refreshments.
You could also create a festive curbside pick-up zone by painting the sidewalk a different color, or by stringing patio lights between tall stanchions.
If you don’t have any greenery, place some potted trees or flowering plants outside. If you do have greenery, double what you have. Make people look twice at what you’re doing!
The goal is to bring some life to the storefront and create an “exterior experience.” Remember, storefronts serve as your brand’s billboard and are more important than ever.
We’ll be back next month with more ideas on supercharging the look of your store.
Lyn M. Falk is President and Founder of Retailworks Inc., an award-winning branding, design, display and consulting firm specializing in retail, corporate and hospitality spaces. A registered interior designer and retail consultant, and a contributor to AVB’s store Makeover Manual, Falk has devoted over 35 years to teaching and helping retailers and business professionals build healthy, purposeful and productive spaces that move hearts, minds and merchandise. Contact Lyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.