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Reopening Retail: Not Just When, but How

Reopening Retail: Not Just When, but How

April 29, 2020

With 42 million retail industry jobs on the line, re-opening stores in a safe and timely manner has become a priority for the U.S. economy. However, a resurgence of traditional shopping will not be possible if consumers don’t feel comfortable.

A recent survey by Morning Consult reported that it will take at least six months for 24 percent of U.S. consumers to confidently enter a shopping mall, with an additional 26 percent being unable to even estimate when they might feel safe in a store again.

This uncertainty has led business leaders, government officials and health professionals to debate when non-essential businesses should reopen, but many are not aligning a proper strategy with their suggested timeline. Our very own Mark Burstein, president, has shared his comprehensive plan for reopening with Sourcing Journal, outlining how  “shopping by appointment” could have a long-term positive impact.

Keeping Crowds Down While Lifting Sales Up

When stores reopen, retailers will likely prioritize selling out-of-season inventory and increasing cash flow as quickly as possible through promotions and discounts. This will result in one of two realities: customers will release their pent-up shopping urges and flock to retailers, or they will still be too scared to venture out of the home.

Neither alternative is optimal for the store, so business owners need to offer a comfortable and socially distant option that can begin to effectively relinquish their economic burdens. This balance can be coordinated through an appointment scheduling solution.

New Application of a Classic Approach

Scheduling consumers to minimize wait time is nothing new. Reservations and appointments are accepted (and even welcomed) within many other industries, so adapting retail to fit this type of system would not require revolutionary thought. Consumers have already developed a level of familiarity and comfort with technology like OpenTable or Fandango which could easily be translated to the traditional shopping experience.

When shopping by appointment, customers would simply visit a store’s website or mobile app, select a location and sign themselves and any accompanying visitors up for a 30-minute window within their preferred time slot. Scheduling in this manner would permit a limited number of customers to enter the store at a time without dealing with a potentially dangerous line around the block.

Be Ready to Reopen

It will take extensive planning to reopen non-essential businesses, but even in the midst of a recession, the reopening of stores can be an opportunity to bring back jobs, increase productivity and strengthen the economy. On a macro level, consumers await rapid virus testing and lessened regulations, but in the meantime, a scheduling system can shorten the amount of time it takes for retailers, and ultimately the U.S. economy, to recover without putting consumers at risk.

If you’re interested in talking more about how to re-open retail, we’d love to connect. Contact us and we’ll “schedule an appointment.”