Your Playbook for a Successful Reopening

by | May 14, 2020

Your Playbook for a Successful Reopening

Many retailers have already entered the first stages of reopening, while others are just initiating or will be moving into their first phase soon. But, reopening those stores is not simply a matter of turning the lights back on.

Retailers must answer a number of questions in order to deliver on a successful, coordinated reopening – including determining which stores to open, when to open them, what services each store should offer, and how to ensure appropriate staffing levels across those stores.

As you build your plan for reopening, there are four key factors that need to be considered:

1. State, Local and Federal Re-Opening Guidelines

You need to fully understand state and or local re-opening guidelines. These guidelines are complex, change day-by-day, and of course vary between states (and sometimes even at a local/municipal level!). Axsium has developed a resource to help you manage this complexity, here:

These guidelines will include health and safety protocols as well as rules around social distancing. A key consideration here will be to define how many people are allowed inside your stores at a time. Some retailers are taking a percentage of maximum occupancy approach while others are calculating occupancy based on the square feet each individual requires (e.g., how much space needs to be maintained around each customer in the store). More information on that calculation can be found here

2. Store Selection

You need to think about which store formats will be easiest to reopen.  Standalone stores and strip center locations may be easier to reopen and indeed may prove more profitable than mall locations, based on their typical size and ease of social distancing. Stores inside malls tend to be smaller, meaning that fewer customers will be allowed in at a time. Customer traffic in malls will also be affected by to the need to support social distancing both within the stores and well as within the mall as a whole.

However, two additional factors will hurt mall locations. Malls will retain a lingering stigma as being “crowded” for many months to come. Meanwhile, standalone locations are much more likely to be able to accommodate curbside pickup than those locked within the confines of a mall. One important caveat to these points is that mall locations with street access may need to worry about some of these issues less than those with only concourse access.

3. Revenue Streams

You need to think about the most effective ways to support the multiple businesses you will be running in your stores such as in-store shopping, ship from store, and curbside pickup.

  • In-store customers will not shop in the same manner as they did prior to the pandemic.  Customers will be more destination-focused than just browsing.
  • Customers that did not do a lot of buying online prior to the pandemic have become more comfortable with online shopping and will likely continue to shop online well into the future.
  • Customers have also become very comfortable with curbside pick-up and will likely continue to expect this from all retailers for health and safety reasons.  

With these new lines of business comes the need for additional staff to support them.  Be sure that you are finding the right balance between employees and customers given the hard cap on the number of people your stores will be allowed to have inside them! 

4. Resource Availability

The next element of opening your stores is staff availability. Some non-essential retailers brought back furloughed and/or laid off employees and converted their stores into distribution centers to support buy online ship from stores sales.

You will also need to assess the availability of your furloughed or laid off employees.

  • Some of those employees may have found other employment.
  • Some of those employees are collecting unemployment and plan to continue collecting unemployment.
  • Some employees may be afraid to come back to work at this time due to their own personal safety concerns.

Considering these factors, you will need to assess how many employees you have available and where they are located geographically. This could help you determine what stores you can or should open and where. You will need to support cross-store and possibly even cross-brand scheduling in order to maximize staffing and productivity across your stores. 

In Summary

You need to bring all these factors together in order to determine what stores you can or should open to maximize your revenue opportunities and provide for the health and safety of your customers and employees.

In order to effectively plan for reopening you will need to:

  • Assess resource availability.
  • Determine the stores you can or should be opening based on the ease in which you can provide for the health and safety of your employees and customers. 
  • Fully understand state, local and or federal social distancing guidelines to define how many people you can have in each location.
  • Assess the new revenue streams you will be running in your stores.

If you need guidance about how to identify key stores, plan for their reopening, or properly track state-by-state or province-by-province guidelines on store occupancy, reach out to us! My email is and I would be more than happy to arrange a free consultation for you and your team.

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