The New Retailer: Survival of the Safest

We are in the midst of an era-defining crisis that is impacting every part of our lives. Whether it’s the challenge of working from home or even keeping your family safe and healthy, our lives have been drastically changed, possibly forever.

Australia, for the most part, is doing an incredible job at social distancing and controlling the pandemic or ‘flattening the curve’.

Arguably, the retail and hospitality industries are being hit by these lockdown measures the hardest. However, it’s amazing how quickly we’ve seen businesses move to adapt to this new normal. We are seeing bars and restaurants moving to a delivery first model, adding essential supplies to their list of products, or in some cases becoming unofficial bottle shops. Distillers have refocused their production on hand sanitiser and fashion brands are making masks.

The delivery-first model is essential right now, we know that this isn’t a sustainable option for every business, nor is it going to be feasible when the country starts opening up. And while the success of our social distancing has meant that we may be out and about sooner than expected, most customers are still wary.

If retailers want to keep their doors open and weather this particularly nasty storm, they will have to create safe and healthy environments for staff and customers. Trust will be the great differentiator in this new retailing world.

Here are our top tips to staying open while staying safe:

Keep it clean

While this has always been important, at this time you need to make sure you are regularly cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces. This means multiple times a day. Letting your customers know that you have implemented stringent health and safety measures will be key to showing you care about their wellbeing. For example, posting your schedule in the shop so they can see when it was last cleaned.

Understand your responsibility

There are a number of resources online that can explain your responsibility as a business owner and your liability if someone were to fall ill. Safe Work Australia is a great resource with a particularly detailed list of practical steps you can take to make your business safe.

Educate your staff

One of the most important aspects in all of this is educating your staff on how to properly follow health and safety protocols. This is not only to protect them, but also so that they can educate customers and enforce these new protocols. Emphasize the importance of washing hands, provide them with gloves and make sure they are self-monitoring for any symptoms. If you have a number of employees, you should also consider implementing health and temperature checks at the door. 

Insist on social distancing

We know that social distancing is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 and even if lockdown measures are lifted, we will continue to have to practise sensible social interactions. Easy ways to do this is to place capacity limits for customers in your store, put marking on the floor so that customers maintain the correct physical distance and place barriers to protect staff from direct contact with customers.

We are working with our customers to help ensure that they are creating safe and healthy places for people to work and shop. Businesses who make this a priority will be the ones that survive, and thrive, in these uncertain and challenging times.