March 2021

ADVICE: THE REOPENING OF RETAIL Keep your business buzzing

The long awaited reopening of retail stores is just around the corner. Whilst many store owners have been busy giving interiors a fresh lick of paint or installing new signage, the retail world as we know it has changed dramatically – and Emma Louise Smith says the in-store experience should be updated to match.

Give people something to get excited about. The 30

fact that brand giants like Google and American Express have launched campaigns encouraging people to shop local and support small businesses certainly shows us where the future of retail is headed. Retail guru, Mary Portas, states “deeper,

meaningful connections with where you live will become far more important than a day trip to an out- of-town shopping centre or retail park”. With this in mind, I’ve rounded up some innovative

ideas that you can do to improve and build excitement around your in-store experience alongside your local community. After all, many of your stores are pillars of the local community and have been a prominent feature on the high street for years.

consumers are more than ready to open up their wallets, those retailers that seek to reassure their customers they are visiting a clean, sanitised and safe store will be the ones reaping the rewards.


Prioritise safety Make your store look as bright and as sparkling clean as possible. Remembering to survey your shop exterior and address any issues that could make it appear old and tired. Wash down any further signs you may have; freestanding, a-boards, flags and banners. Revisit the cleanliness 50s and 60s housewives championed and consider the entrance into your store, including steps and the pavement outside.

Health and safety measures: • If you didn’t last time around, make wearing a mask in your store mandatory and enforce it! At least until the Government issues a ‘no-mask’ policy.

• Be the best pressed in town! A crisply ironed uniform makes it obvious who is available to help

nderstandably, the top Google trends for 2020 were focused predominantly on searches related to Coronavirus. And whilst

someone in-store. This is another opportunity for you to display your brand with a friendly, ‘how can I help you’ message.

• Display clearly the ‘rules to entry’, and have health and safety notices pinned in clear view around the shop.

• Make sure your product information cards are laminated (so they can be easily wiped clean!)

• Add strategically-placed hand sanitisers around the store and a pack of alcohol wipes. In front of the customer, give things a wipe down, this sends a message that their health is important to you.

• Nice to see you… To see you nice! As Brucie would say, make sure we can see those pearly whites. Consider a guard type face covering, not only so people can see you smile, but consider the scenario if a customer is deaf and needs to read your lips.

The experience We’ve been cooped up indoors for months! Going to our favourite stores and being able to interact with people is exactly what we all need. So how are you going to make sure it’s an experience they remember so they come back to your store for years to come?

1. Think community. Are you part of your town council? Do you sponsor the local school’s little league team? Do you donate to a local charity? Do you and can you support neighbouring stores with dual campaigns? Do you remember people’s names?

2. Environmental benefits. What can your store do to protect the environment or improve its own sustainability. Do you have a vast expanse on your shop roof? Could you generate electricity for the local town?

3. Could you use AI? Beauty product retailer, Sephora, collects information on customer preferences via an app as they explore and rate products online, and makes them available to sales staff when they visit a store in person. Now that is impressive.

4. In-store events. Err on the side of caution and ensure you follow Government guidelines – but create a calendar of experiences where customers get to try out your products. Perhaps these are organised in tandem with a local business, school, college or council? Perhaps a local celebrity can get involved too?

5. Offline is online.Online is offline. Whatever you do in-store make sure you shout about it online too and ensure your messaging is consistent. Focus on your Google my Business presence, your website content and your social media channels and ensure the dots are joined. Encourage people in-store, online.

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