Since mid-March, most businesses are facing the impact of mandatory shutdowns, extended lockdowns, and quarantines on their businesses. Apart from essential services, retail stores, and small businesses had almost zero sales in the past month. Novel coronavirus has changed the way companies work and has forced them to look forward to a new shopping model, “retail-to-go” services.
Nearly 50 years back in the US, before this supermarket culture, the shopping used to be done traditionally by visiting the brick and mortar stores like bakery, grocers, small retail stores, etc. The customers used to give their shopping list to the store owner or staff, who would collect them from different shelves, packed them, and then sold to the customers. The customers never entered the premises or touched any of the products in the store. Now for the safety of customers and employees, we need to go back to a similar shopping culture.
“The Retail-to-go model is the new version of shopping that lets your business not only survive but thrive during this terrible phase.”
The new temporary normal is “retail – to – go.”
Even if you reopen your store, social distancing will be mandatory as COVID-19 has not subsided. The goal is to sell products without allowing customers inside the store and adopt some form of a safe delivery system. The “retail-to-go” model is the new temporary normal that provides you an opportunity to do business and reach out to your loyal customers, keeping them safe.
Six guidelines on implementing the retail-to-go model
1.All business employees must be trained in respiratory etiquettes, environment cleaning & disinfecting as well as hand hygiene.
2.All employees must be scanned for COVID-19 related symptoms before entering work premises.
3.All employees must follow protocols like wearing masks, sanitizing hands, and maintaining a minimum 6 ft distance from one another.
4.All businesses must create an option for customers to get items through the curbside pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery at doorstep without entering the home or premises.
5.All purchased items should be delivered with minimum possible physical touches.
6.All payments should be made digitally using the phone or the internet. It will be safe for employees and customers to avoid any physical contact while making payments.
7.While this new normal will not permit customers to flood back to your stores, but it is a start. With a few changes, your sales can start rolling again, and you can not only survive but grow your business.
Go digital to grow your business
The scare from the pandemic and social distancing will change not only the customers’ expectations but also the way businesses function. The curbside pickups, no-touch doorstep deliveries, online ordering are some of the conveniences that customers will continue to expect even after the pandemic.
According to the recent survey- 90% of Americans are still avoiding in-store shopping and believe online shopping is essential right now. The trend for online shopping is going to increase. Since you cannot allow customers inside your store, you must provide an online platform from where they can select products and place an order.
Your brick-and-mortar store can grow and gain a competitive edge if they opt for going digital. The faster you get your site up, the easier it will be to implement the retail-to-go model and provide safe deliveries to your customers.
Adjusting to customer needs
“It is a big change for any small business, especially if they have never thought of having a website.”
Before COVID-19, the presence on social media and having a website for your store were never essential, but now it has become vital. Customers are willing to support the local business to thrive, but they are concerned about their health and safety. For this reason, companies in the US are adjusting to customer needs and adopting the BOPUS (means Buy Online, Pick Up in Store) business model.
With these difficult economic times, it may seem hard for you to invest in digital marketing or go for eCommerce website development for your store. However, if you invest now, you can sail through this phase and grow your business further.
To transform your store, you need to implement the retail-to-go model and ensure to provide:
- Plenty of inventory with correct inventory numbers online.
- Free shipping or low-cost shipping for doorstep deliveries.
- Free curbside pickup for those who are not willing to pay shipping charges.
- Excellent customer service, both online and offline.
- Access to a quick and user-friendly website.
It may take some time for the COVID-19 to stop affecting the health of people, but its impact on the economy can be reduced. With the retail-to-go and BOPUS business model, you can start making sales and grow your business further. Adapting now, by investing in digital marketing, you can not only save your business but also broaden your customer base.