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According to new research from Engine Insights, forty-seven percent of consumers are willing to visit a store this week. While most consumers are feeling ready, they're still slightly anxious about getting back to shopping brick and mortar, amidst continued health concerns, new social distancing and capacity parameters.

For retailers, the real challenge is ensuring their customers feel safe when returning to stores. To gain the confidence of consumers, there need to be many new measures put in place.

Here is a list of dos and don'ts for retailers as we move toward the next phase of normal.
DO
Make sure you can effectively manage footfall. Overcrowding will create fear and loss of confidence. Make sure you have plenty of directional signage, crowd control measures and staffing. Solutions including people counters, occupancy managers and pre-booked appointments both allow for the throttling of traffic, and the ability to build in cleaning time.
DON'T
Overcrowd or fill your store to capacity. Consumers are being trained to avoid crowds, and you'll miss out on their business. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression on your shoppers, and they're looking to trust you have their best interests in mind.

DO
Have a plan. Think about how customers will enter and exit the store. Plan for increased space between racks, how you'll handle fitting rooms, and how to attend to "at-risk" customers. Consider your employees and what they need in order to stay safe including break rooms with increased space between lounging areas, removal of shared snacks, availability of hand sanitizer and masks.
DON'T
Rush in. If you are not ready, it will show, and it will be very hard to gain back consumer confidence once you have lost it. Social media will not be your friend. Forrester Research reports that 52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that demonstrate how they are protecting customers against the threats of COVID-19, so the stakes are too high to reopen too soon.

DO
Hire the right team and staff adequately. Being courteous and in control will be the most important ingredient to a successful reopening. Over staff in the beginning, you will need the extra hands, and ensure that all staff is properly trained and ready to enforce new protocols. Customers will be understandably on edge returning to stores, and some will feel entitled that everything has returned to normal, so staff may need to be very firm and well-versed in the store's new operating style.
DON'T
Under staff. You will need to expect the unexpected, and having more hands on deck will prove to be beneficial in the long run. And having the wrong staff, or those that don't take the time to learn new operating procedures, or feel comfortable telling that customer who won't keep a mask on, may not be the best fit.

DO
Offer customers the ability to shop when and how they prefer. We're not suggesting that you remain open for 24 hours, but the goal is to make it easy for the customer. Add new options like Click and Collect, or curbside pickup to enable shoppers to shop from home, and pick up their items without leaving the safety of their cars. Allow customers to schedule their visit, or shop by appointment. Make sure your website is up to date and full of in-depth product descriptions. Make it easy to buy however your customer wants to buy.
DON'T
Make it difficult for customers to do business with you. Social distancing introduces a number of disruptions to the way you've traditionally done business. So limiting options to customers - having nowhere to order online and pick up in store, not having a live customer service voice or chat online — is not going to help with a smooth reopening. Think about extending return policies since so many stores will no longer have fitting rooms.

DO
Demonstrate your commitment to a safe environment. Use clear signage to convey the measures in place to ensure shopper safety. Make hand sanitizer or wipes available throughout the shopping floor, and in all high-touch areas. Make sure cleaning supplies are visible at registers, doorways and near greeters to provide shoppers with an added sense of security. And if possible, hire a sanitizing professional.
DON'T
Assume someone else will do it. Retailers need to show that the store is being tended to between visitors, and before opening each day. We can get consumers back to shopping brick and mortar, but gaining consumer confidence is everything. Don't lose it by not being prepared. It will be very hard to gain it back.