Cost-effective ways to implement social distancing in your retail business

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By Rosana Beechum

As the world begins to come out of lockdown, it is important that we look for ways to bring retail businesses back to full operation while maintaining everyone’s safety. The first step is to make sure that we are following all the advice that has been given to us so far. One way you can do this, is by ensuring social distancing measures can be adhered to within a business environment. Here are ways to implement social distancing in the most cost-effective way.

Move your stock around

You may have to reduce stock levels as much as you can, but keep enough to still turn a profit. Especially seeing as restrictions mean only a certain number of people are going to be allowed into the store at any one time. As a result, you may want to place non-perishable stock close by, so people can easily get it if they need it. If you have an e-commerce component to your business, you could allow customers to order anything they might need online and then come to the store for a pickup.

It may be beneficial to only have popular items out on the shop floor. You can store your items in a lockup nearby, that way you will be able to get them at any time. If the lockup is within walking distance, one of your employees could nip out there quickly if they need to.

Set up e-appointments

Do you usually have some sort of consultation as part of your service? Whether you offer a personal shopping service, or you make cakes for big occasions and events, there are many small businesses that require you to have one-on-one conversations and consultations with your clients.

This might not always be feasible in a world where we still need to social distance. There are many considerations that need to be made. Someone might not be comfortable coming in for a full consultation, but they also might not be happy with just a phone call.

As a result, you need to make sure that you have a way to communicate with clients face to face. Video conferencing is massive at the moment. You could easily set up a series of appointments that you can use to talk through various things with clients. It might be more productive than a phone call, and it means that you don’t have to miss business from someone who cannot physically come to your store.

Rearrange your store

Advice mentions that it can be beneficial to encourage a one-way flow of traffic around the unit. In addition to letting only a few people in at a time, it means that there is less chance of people breaking social distancing rules.

You need to make sure that you are setting up some sort of flow similar to this around your store. This can be done easily and using the barricades that you already have within the store. Throw in some tape, and you can easily mark out on the floor where people need to stop to maintain distances properly.

Making sure your staff and customers are effectively social distancing does not have to be a massive rigamarole. Using items you already have around your store, you will be able to throw together an environment that is safe for all who are coming in. Get these changes in place and get ready to enjoy working in your store once more. It might be a little different than what you are used to, but it could also be incredibly rewarding once you get back into the swing of things. Start thinking about the changes you could make around your store now!


Rosana Beechum is a business and marketing undergraduate from Nottingham Trent University from the UK, who is attempting to share her knowledge through writing articles for small business owners.

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