The Comeback: Reopening Retail and Rebuilding Trust

In the episode, “Reopening Retail and Rebuilding Trust,” Bob Phibbs (aka “The Retail Doctor”)  outlines a strategic approach to reopening your doors with hope and success. This upbeat and informative session gives clear insight on key elements for a successful comeback and rebuilding trust in your retail business.

Here’s what you need to know:

Do your due diligence

Doing the proper due diligence before opening your doors is key to a successful reopening and rebuilding trust with your patrons. Let’s face it. The coronavirus pandemic has put the public on edge and has affected the trust factor when it comes to ensuring that your patrons feel safe when they enter your place of business. So, how do you regain their trust? The solution lies in rethinking your approach. Here are some of Phibbs’ suggestions to make it happen:

1. Regain trust in your customer environment

First and foremost, Phibbs drives home the message that retailers need to “do what it takes to regain the trust of their customers.” It’s important to remember that it’s not about you—but the customers—that will make all the difference. Here are 10 ways to mend the trust factor:

  • Sanitize surfaces
  • Think of masks as the new employee dress code. Encourage your staff to wear masks that reflect their personalities. (Just be sure they are up to code.)
  • Assign a friendly greeter at the door and offer hand sanitizer to your patrons to put them at ease before they enter. 
  • Have clear signage at the door explaining what you require and expect from your patrons.
  • Go contactless.
  • Schedule appointments.
  • Make one-way aisles if you have permanent fixtures.
  • Reduce store fixtures and place them within 6 and 12 feet of each other.
  • Add social distancing decals to the floor throughout the store.
  • Be sure to have customer-facing credit card terminals, and clean them after each use.

Here are some items to put on your shopping list to maintain a safe in-store environment:

  • Materials and solutions to safely clean products, point-of-sale, and other areas on a regular basis.
  • Masks to offer patrons who might not have brought their own.
  • Disposable bags patrons can put their masks into if necessary.

2. Rethink your approach with employees

Having a successful reopening relies on several factors. One of these is providing your employees with a comfort factor they can trust in order to return to a safe work environment. After all, your employees are the backbone of your business, so now is the time to rethink your approach. Think of this time as if you’re opening a new business. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Adjust your leadership style by becoming more of a mentor-type leader. Showing a calm confidence and being a role model is more important now than ever before, and this will help your staff see how they should be interacting with customers.
  • Plan for your initial meeting.
  • Be attuned to employees’ safety concerns.
  • Communicate how you are taking their health and safety seriously.
  • Actively listen to their concerns and repeat back what they say so they feel they are being heard.
  • Know the personalities of your team.
  • Lead by example by practicing what you teach.

3. Creating a trusting and enjoyable shopping experience

After weeks of quarantine, it may be safe to say some of us have “retail withdrawal.” (After all, they don’t call shopping “retail therapy” for nothing.) Welcoming your customers back through your doors should be an exciting experience, not a stressful one. Here are some important things to keep in mind when reopening your doors:

  • Make shopping fun while also making people feel safe.
  • People go shopping to escape. It’s up to you to provide that experience.
  • People buy when they feel hopeful. Be sure your employees can deliver that notion with confidence.
  • People who feel they matter will buy from you. Those who feel undervalued won’t.

4. Pivoting when it means the most

There’s no doubt we have all felt the impact of the pandemic, one way or another. Current circumstances have forced our hand to regroup and redirect our efforts to move forward; hence, the pivot. No one said it would be easy, but with some honest and straightforward direction from Phibbs, we can work toward a successful reopening of our businesses. Here are key elements in engaging the pivot:

  • Don’t talk about the news.
  • Set expectations and hold your employees accountable.
  • Keep positive and pivot.
  • Focus on human connection.
  • Genuinely care.

The takeaway

Five words sum up Phibbs presentation: “In Hope I am Fearless.” He believes when you have hope, you are looking forward. You gain energy in the feeling of potential.

You can watch the entire episode, and other in this series, by clicking below.