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Reopening stores safely presents an unprecedented challenge. Here’s how to do it well.

Retail stores around the world are starting to reopen for the first time in nearly two months, and retailers are facing a slew of unique challenges. Not only do retailers need to keep employees and customers safe while adhering to government guidelines and employee safety protocols, they also need to find ways to maximize their profits, compensate for several weeks of reduced or nonexistent foot traffic and sales, and deliver exemplary customer experiences. Reopening is a complicated, delicate process and to earn customers’ trust and inspire feelings of safety, security and ease, retailers have a big responsibility to get it right.

Here are a few things that retailers can do to ensure that their customers, staff and communities stay safe, well-supplied and healthy:

Offer flexible ways to shop
Customers rely on retailers’ ability to give them a variety of ways they can shop. Services like buy online and pick up in store and click & collect minimize person-to-person contact, while providing a quick, convenient shopping experiences. Inside the store, retailers can consider increasing the availability of self-checkout by adding additional lanes or support staff, or consumer mobile shopping and no-touch payment options. Retailers can also continue to work with delivery services to ramp up home delivery options, which isn’t just convenient for everyday shoppers but also helps serve at-risk and vulnerable communities effectively and efficiently.

Encourage and enforce protective measures
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people stay at least 6 feet apart, which can be a challenge inside a store. To help customers and associates keep their distance, retailers may need to limit the number of people inside a store at any time, assign store associates to enforce these social distancing guidelines and use markers on the floor and in aisles to help shoppers remember. Along with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, retailers can install clear physical barriers at interaction points where social distancing is not possible. Retailers can also recommend or require anyone who enters the store to wear a mask, wash their hands, and encourage minimal touches during a customers’ time in the store.

Clean hardware well (and often)
People constantly touching point-of-sale and checkout hardware and peripherals like keyboards and PIN pads is part of normal use, as is cleaning those devices. But when the world is trying to slow and prevent the spread of a contagious disease, cleaning point-of-sale and self-checkout hardware and workspaces thoroughly should be a critical part of any retailer’s strategy. However, in order to get the best out of equipment and prevent accidental damage, it’s important to clean this equipment properly. For more on how to clean Toshiba hardware safely and correctly, consult our cleaning guide.

Have a plan but be open to pivoting
There is no “one size fits all” approach to reopening. Each store in each county, city, state and country is different and will need to adhere to different sets of regulations. It will take time to acquire things like barriers, signs, physical markers, sanitation supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees, and some safety and store operations improvement tactics could work better than others. It’s important that retailers that reopen continue to reevaluate their processes and protocols with feedback from their employees and communities.  

For more in-depth reopening guidelines, including tips for encouraging social distancing in a retail store, tactics to keep employees safe, additional resources and how retail technology solutions can help retailers adjust to the new normal, explore our Reopening Guidelines.

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