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Retail In The Post-Coronavirus Era: What Lessons Can Be Learned?

Overhead view of retail space

Retail In The Post-Coronavirus Era: What Lessons Can Be Learned?

With all that has happened around the world amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there has come a new understanding behind the way businesses and consumers function. In the short time that people have been sheltering in place and social distancing, many businesses have been forced to close their brick-and-mortar operations and some new lessons have certainly been learned.

Although it will be a long road to a full recovery once life returns back to normal, businesses should start thinking about potentially implementing what they’ve learned during the outbreak in order to prepare for any similar future situations.

But what exactly have we learned so far and what can we do with this new information?

New Possibilities and Safety Measures

The shopper experience is vital for most retail businesses. As the current pandemic progresses, that experience has taken on a completely different appearance. Despite the restrictions the coronavirus has placed on regular social practices and habits, there is still inventory to sell and consumers wanting to buy. This means that many retail businesses have turned to new options to keep their consumers’ confidence.

While remote work isn’t anything new, it certainly is for many retail businesses. Many companies have learned amid the pandemic, that they can still run and maintain business with remote workers. However, while the possibility of remote work has grown and will likely extend after current public safety measures have ended, it also means that a post-coronavirus health and safety plan needs to be put into place (and fine-tuned) as remote work becomes more integral in many business models. As we all know now, being prepared for the worst, as best as you can, is critical.

As some safety management educators explain, “Management needs to make sure their remote workers have access to the same resources as employees who work onsite. Even if employees work from home, they need to abide by the same policies and procedures as in-house workers. A remote workforce offers a number of benefits, including lower overhead and the ability to hire for particular projects, but companies still have to ensure that the workers are healthy and safe.”

Looking towards the future is always a good practice, but what does it look like post-pandemic? What measures will need to be taken for those with the option of working offsite now? For many considering the switch to remote work, even partially, it will be absolutely necessary to take into consideration the new challenges your employees and business will face.

Keeping it Clean For Employees and Customers

Although it was already a standard procedure, companies and retailers will most likely make proper handwashing and sanitization procedures a much bigger priority now that we have a clearer understanding of how quickly things can spread. Furthermore, beyond good sanitization practices amongst employees, extending these practices to customers can keep the curve down on this and any future viral pandemics.

While it isn’t always possible to offer handwashing areas to clients, installing hand sanitizing stations can be a good stand-in. Retailers can provide this at the entrances and exits, outside fitting rooms, at the end of aisles, and at the cash wrap. However, it’s important to keep in mind that sanitization is only effective if the proper steps are taken. Sani Professional recommends a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol and the following steps:

  • Apply — When using a gel, apply use enough to cover the entirety of your hands.
  • Rub — Rub your hands together for about 20 seconds or until your hands begin to feel dry. When using sanitizing wipes its important to rub the wipe across the entire surface of your hands for at least 15 seconds.
  • Leave it — Wait until the hand sanitizer is completely dry and refrain from rubbing it off on your clothes.

When both customers and employees understand the proper procedure and how important it is to public health, cleaning in this way will eventually become second nature to all involved. It can seem like a hassle now, but preparing and educating today is the best way to ensure a safer, more profitable tomorrow.

Building Up Better Cyber Security Defenses

Unfortunately, yet maybe not wholly unsurprising, there has been an increase in cybercrimes during the coronavirus outbreak. Considering how quickly our world was flipped upside down, some businesses, big and small, inadvertently let their guard down when it came to cybersecurity and criminals jumped at the opportunity.

In the post-coronavirus era, retailers will not only realize how important their online stores are but the importance of extra online security to keep their data and their customers’ data safe under similar future situations. For smaller businesses, in particular, it can seem daunting trying to find the right resources to protect your network against cyber threats and other vulnerabilities.

However, tighter and tougher cybersecurity forces can be attained by starting with the basics. Some worthwhile cybersecurity tips to get started are:

  1. Apply device encryption in the form of a virtual private network (VPN).
  2. Be careful with payment and transaction information with more sophisticated anti-fraud solutions.
  3. Keep clean machines with regular updates and scans to locate any weakness quickly.
  4. Have a mobile device action plan including a list of required security policies applied to the device before employees use it.
  5. Limit access to data systems by ensuring that only select users have access to select resources.
  6. Maintain a strong antivirus software.
  7. Protect and back-up sensitive data on tapes, discs, or cloud backup storage.
  8. Provide multi-factor authentication to reduce the likelihood of fraud.
  9. Set strong passwords, the longer and more complicated the better.
  10. Train employees on cybersecurity and remind them to look out for signs of phishing attempts.
  11. Use network firewalls to prevent outside users from having access to corporate data.

While we currently still find ourselves in the thick of a pandemic, there is a light at the end of this tunnel, it’s just going to take time. Being prepared for not only the moment our day-to-day life returns but for any other future situations such as this will ensure that your business will be ready and well-equipped for life’s next curveball.

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