COVID-19 resources

How to Manage Your Retail Business During COVID-19

Mallory A. Russell, Head of Content Marketing
Square

Though we often think of brick-and-mortar stores when we think of retail, the truth is that it’s possible to reach customers wherever they are. Whether you sell clothes or candles, bicycles or barbecue sauce, you can adapt to the current situation.

We’ve compiled tips as well as industry resources to help you manage your business right now.

Communicate with your customers

Keeping your customers informed is critical to the health of your business now and in the future. Here are a few ways to do that:

Update your hours

Set your new operating hours for each of your locations to let customers know when you have reduced hours or are closed. You can update your location hours through Square.

Post updates on your website

If you’re changing the way you operate, make sure you post that information on your website, your social profiles, and your review site profiles.

Send email and post on social media

Keep your customers up to date to let them know how they can support your business, what your new hours are, or if you’re closing for a period of time. Communicate that information on your social channels, through email, or wherever else your customers engage with you. If you use Square, you can send a free email.

Adapt your offering

You need to continue to create revenue, despite all of the changes happening. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Sell digital gift cards

Electronic gift cards can help increase cash flow while your business is closed. You can quickly set up an online ordering page for gift cards and then promote them to your loyal customers — who want to show their support.

Allow customers to shop by appointment

To ensure that you don’t have too many people in your store at once — or to start doing virtual consultations — have customers book appointments for pickup or to shop. You can set up a free online booking site with Square Appointments.

Evaluate your products

New restrictions are changing the way that people live and what they buy. Dig into the latest trends or survey your loyal customers to determine what their needs are right now. If some of your products meet those needs, make sure to promote those products more. If your products don’t meet those needs, evaluate if it makes sense to develop a product that does.

Try contactless selling

Some parts of the country have strongly encouraged social distancing. Here are a few ways you can comply while you continue to sell:

Sell your products online

Connect with your customers in a new way with a website that showcases your products online. You can add all your inventory or choose to highlight products that are particularly relevant right now — you might even consider free shipping to incentivize purchases. Be sure to promote your new online store via email and social media to your loyal customers. Learn how to start selling online.

Accept pickup or delivery orders

There are ways to deliver your products other than shipping by mail. You might consider offering customers an in-store pickup, curbside pickup, or local delivery option when ordering online, on the phone, or through email.

Sell on social media

Not only should you be communicating with your regular customers on social media, but you should be selling to them (and to new customers) on the platform. You can link your online store to your Instagram so your followers can shop with you more easily.

Limit in-person contact

If you are selling in person, you’ll want to make sure that you’re limiting contact as much as possible. Consider disabling the signature screen and skipping the receipt screen during checkout. Or try a remote payment option like invoices.

Take payments from your computer

If you prefer, you can take an order over the phone or from an email, and key in card payment details. You can create and manage orders with Square for Retail or your other point of sale.

Other retail resources

The National Retail Federation (NRF): The organization is providing COVID-19 related resources including guidelines on reopening and information on supply chain implications.

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA): A trade association that’s providing COVID-19 specific resources to help retailers manage sheltering in place and reopening.

Retail Wire: Timely retail industry news and discussion, covering everything from technology and supply chain to employee management and insurance.

Retail Minded: An industry blog that provides news, education, and support specific to independent retailers.

Discuss how to adapt and shift your retail business now and in the future in our Retail Community.