How To Manage Your Store During COVID-19

Ricochet blog header photo illustrated with a store

Alright. This is it. The question that is on everybody’s mind right now. How the heck are you supposed to manage your store during the current COVID-19 outbreak?

Depending on where you live, what country you’re from, and whether or not you read this today or tomorrow, your city could be going through some serious quarantine measures.

Not only is this financially difficult for small businesses everywhere, but this could also be taking a massive toll on your staff, your personal health, and your relationships with your consignors. There’s a lot to tackle.

In no way will this be easy. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, you’re going to have to make some of the toughest decisions you’ll ever make as a business owner.

A lot of these have probably been on your mind already.

How are you handling your staff and managing their sick time? Are you reducing hours? Scheduling pick up and drop off times differently? Are you just going to bite the bullet and close your doors for the time being? Maybe you don’t even have a choice. What happens if your local municipality mandates closure of restaurants and retail stores?

To shine a little light on it all, we are all in this together. Everybody is impacted. It’s a tough time and we can get through this.

Make Sure You Have Gift Cards Available

In most communities, it is currently discouraged to gather in groups. This has taken a massive toll on the hospitality ad restaurant industry. One solution we are hearing of is people ordering take-out or delivery.

So what about retail and consignment? A lot of people are still looking for great savings on used goods. Gift cards are absolutely essential here.

Currently, with Ricochet, gift cards are available for all our stores with integrated through Gravity Payments. If you want to start using gift cards, the first step is to make sure you’re using integrated processing. If you haven’t, now might be a great time to start! There’s a pretty strong chance your store can get a lower rate. Additionally, integrated processing saves you a ton of time at the POS and reduces the opportunity for mistakes quite dramatically. Contact our team to get started with Gravity.

Next is to order gift cards. Gravity Payments and ChargitPro have partnered with Plastic Resource. We have full instructions available from a PDF download with contact information and instructions.

If people can’t make it to your store, bring your store to them.

There are a million different reasons why you might want your store’s catalog on the web. Everything from increased foot-traffic to more brand awareness and engaged customers. The main point is that your store can be accessed from everywhere in the world.

There are lots of ways to do this, and even more questions to ask before you get started. Perhaps you don’t really want to deal with online orders? Shipping can be frustrating, managing returns can be even worse. Maybe you just want to be able to share your newest featured products to Facebook and let your customers browse around from the comfort of their home.

With Ricochet, the fastest way to get going is directly through our built-in web store. Because you are already managing all your inventory and products through Ricochet’s native POS and inventory system, adding on the web-store is super simple!

You’ll immediately have pages pre-built for your categories, and your products will instantly be listed. Anything that has the “Available Online” toggle turned on will be listed on your online store.

This feature still exists for stores that don’t have a web store activated yet. Going through and adding the products and details you want online before you start is a great, proactive way to speed things up.

You can see where that’s located in the product details below.

a screenshot of ricochet POS with the online settings highlighted

If you are interested in getting started with the web store, you can give us a call or chat with us whenever you want. We’ve been getting a lot of requests lately, so our sales team is prioritizing the web store to get people up and running quickly.

What you can do to help, is take great pictures of anything you want to be listed online! Whether or not you have the web store activated, every account has the ability to add product images to their inventory. Images are absolutely essential online, so if you haven’t done that, now would be a great time to start!

Sharing your products on social media might be the best return on time spent you will get this month.

Once your online store is up and running, it is absolutely essential that you start showcasing your hottest products online. If people can’t or choose not to visit your brick and mortar location, you can still let them shop around from the comfort of their home.

To share your products on social media, simply find any featured products or categories you want to showcase, copy the URL, and post it into an engaging Facebook post.

Closing your store might be mandated locally, slimming down operations might be a good proactive first step.

This might be the toughest and most frustrating part of COVID-19 damage control. But if you’re worried about the financial well-being of your store, it helps to take proactive steps to reduce costs in the short term.

Remember that every dollar counts. Your store is unique and you will have certain bills and functions that are absolutely essential. It’s up to you to decide what parts of your store are essential and what are optional. But start small by asking yourself simple questions.

Could you reduce the heat or A/C a few degrees? Turn off lights and equipment that may not be immediately needed? Any techniques you can reduce bills a little bit can add up.

Are any service providers giving out pandemic relief discounts?

You also might have to make some really tough decisions with your staff. Payroll is often the largest expense of any store. You know your business best. You know your team best. Business is all about making tough decisions. But before making any major decisions about your staff, always make sure they are informed and understand the circumstances around your store.

If anything, make sure your team is informed of your HR policies. This outbreak is a stressful time for everybody. And when things get tough, the last thing we need is more confusion. One of the most important ways to ease things on your staff is to be very transparent with them.

Take time with each of them and make sure they understand what to do if they don’t feel well. Do they get sick leave? Are you extending it in the short-term?

Your employees are an essential part of your team, and the last thing you want to do is confuse them and make them concerned about their own jobs or well being.

Additionally, the Center for Disease Control provides some excellent guidelines on how to respond as a business.

Speak to a financial advisor or accountant about your store’s financial state.

Sometimes to get through hard times, you just need a little pick-me-up. It happens to us individually, and it happens to our businesses too.

If you’ve ever applied for a loan in the past, you might already know that the Small Business Association can provide relief loans. Typically, they are reserved for those impacted by environmental disasters, but they can also apply to businesses struggling from COVID-19.

If you’re interested in an SBA loan, definitely speak with your financial advisors first. They can help you decide whether they are appropriate and a good plan of action for your unique situation.

You can learn more by going to their website where they have a page dedicated to COVID-19 relief loans. They have lots of information and are an invaluable resource at a time like today.

Slow times can be an opportunity. Take advantage of the increased free time.

If you have the resources, tools, and confidence to run your store effectively during this pandemic, slow foot traffic might be a bit of an opportunity. Dig up that old to-do list and get started on those little tasks that always seem to always sneak away.

Start early on your spring cleaning. Or maybe have some good meetings with your team and just talk sales strategy and tactics. It’s super easy for skills to dull down over time. Now is the perfect time to sharpen them right back up.

We have always believed that really good staff training is one of the most important things any store can do. Are there secrets and tips that your associates have learned over their experience? Something interesting they’ve been thinking about for a while? Team bonding not only helps your store in the long term but will help improve morale; something we can all use a little more of these days.

What are some other ways your team can be productive during slow times? We would love to hear some of your tactics and how they have been successful for you.

Everything takes practice. Even disaster preparedness.

Running a business is one of the most challenging things you can ever do. It’s full of tough decisions and complicated challenges. One of the most difficult can be managing your finances. That’s why most businesses work closely with accountants and other financial professionals. It leaves you time to be passionate about your endeavors.

Like most skills, they take practice and time to perfect. Honestly, disaster preparedness is one of them. As you work through the COVID-19 outbreak, keep a journal of what you’re going through. Both personally and professionally. Being able to look back and take proactive steps for the future will be one of the most important parts of your store’s recovery.

Talk to your team a lot. We can’t stress this enough. Be clear about steps that need to be taken, policies that are in place, and who they can talk to for help. Your team might spend more than 40 hours together during a normal week. A sudden change can be a lot for people to handle.

Talk with your accountant about what you can do to be prepared for another major disaster. It may not be another economic downturn or virus, but I think we all can take a lesson that having money set aside and clear protocol in place makes all our lives easier when things get tough.

If your store is spending excessive time, energy, and resources managing your inventory and POS, Ricochet is here to help. Try a free 14-day trial and see how Ricochet can help improve your store’s processes and save you time and money. We specialize in consignment and resale, but also have powerful features to suit stores of all shapes and sizes. We would love to give you a call and learn more about your store.