On Monday the Irish Government announced that they are putting the country at Level 3 of the National Framework. This may be a relief to us after the leaked NPHET advice to escalate to Level 5. With a winter of uncertainty ahead of us retailers and other businesses are heading into an anxious period. And this anxiety is contagious, consumers may be reluctant to spend money in periods of financial uncertainty and to head to the shops during flu season.
So how can Irish retailers respond to reassure their customers and staff? I think there are several ways retailers can get two messages across.
- Make sure that your staff and customers are following the guidelines. Avoid any signs of complacency. For some customers seeing a staff member with a mask worn incorrectly (under their nose or chin) might be enough to put them off making a return visit.
- Monitor the flow of customers into your store. Consumers are becoming accustomed to waiting in line and some are wary of people not properly socially distancing. Make being in your store as comfortable as possible for them. Put your friendliest staff member at the door!
- Regularly check that hand sanitiser, disinfectant spray and paper towels by the entrance are stocked up. These are the first signals to your customers that you care about them. You don’t want an empty hand sanitiser at the door to become a germ-spreader rather preventer.
- If you’re a smaller retail business you may have the advantage of knowing your customers better than the bigger retailers. Can you check in with some of your most loyal customers or those who may be cocooning? Do they need anything that you could arrange to have delivered?
- Ask customers who come in store how they are planning to shop during Level 3. Ask how and when they intend to shop for Christmas. Some shoppers are starting their Christmas shopping now. Is anything that you could do to ensure that they feel safer shopping with you?
- Think about introducing some new ways of meeting your customers’ needs such as pre-ordering to collect, ordering online and delivery. Don’t be afraid to try out different ways with a small group of your most loyal customers.
Best of luck to everyone trying to keep the lights on and the tills ringing in the months ahead.