Holiday season 2020 is going to be a tough one.  As a business owner, there are actions you can take to keep everyone safe during the ongoing COVID crisis. With a little preparation and planning, you can have a successful – and safe holiday season.

With safety in mind, here are changes to your operations to consider:

1.  Offer Online Ordering

If you haven’t made the jump to selling online, it’s time to join your competition and make it easier than ever for your customers to shop with you. In the past six months, online ordering has become more popular as people shelter at home and look for safer ways to shop.

The numbers back this up.  According to recent research done by Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, online ordering has become a rapidly popular trend, jumping 49% from March 12-April 11 this year, compared to March 1st-11th. In fact, a recent Facebook study showed that 85% of consumers have regularly shopped online since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you haven’t made the jump online, now’s the time to start.

2.  Curbside Pickup Options

Curbside pickup has also quickly become a popular trend that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the number of orders placed online and picked up at stores has surged more than 208% compared to last year. Many consumers have discovered the convenience of ordering online and picking up their order the same day without having to leave the safety of their vehicle. This holiday season, it’s becoming clear that this trend is here to stay.

Remember: curbside is quick, it’s convenient, and it keeps them coming back.

3.  Review Your Hygiene Policies & Procedures

Now’s a good time to take stock of your practices inside the store.  Review the system you have in place and evaluate how well you and your employees have carried out your policies and procedures. Consider these steps to take:

  • Regularly sanitize and wipe down any surfaces.
  • Add six-foot spacing markers on the floor at crowded areas such as the entrance and check-out lines of the store to maintain a healthy distance between customers.
  • Limit the number of customers in your store-front at any given time.
  • Add plastic partitions at checkout to protect the safety of your employees.
  • Require customers and employees to wear masks when visiting your store.
  • Promote teleworking across your organization. Permit anyone who can work from home to do so
  • Encourage customers to use debit or credit cards instead of cash.
  • Offer sanitizing stations in prominent places around your store.

Check with your state and local government health departments or business licensing agencies for the latest guidance.  Things have probably been updated since the last time you checked.  Review changes with your employees.  Even if you don’t need to make any changes, it’s good to have everyone take it from the top.

4.  Your Customers Informed

It may feel overwhelming to have to keep customers informed of all the new policies and procedures that you’ve implemented, especially with so many changes in the past few months. However, it’s much easier than you might think and can even help increase business during this holiday season.

If your in-store hours have changed or you’ve recently launched an online shop or made online ordering available, make sure to update your Google My Business profile and social media accounts to ensure that your customers can easily find the updates. Also, take advantage of your email list and send a quick update email keeping everyone in the loop. You may even want to consider adding an incentive for those who decide to try your online or curbside pickup services.

There is still time and opportunity for your business to have a successful holiday season. Consumers are eager to shop local and are looking for a unique shopping experience that will allow them to get their shopping done safely. For now, implementing safety procedures for both employees and consumers will benefit your business more than anything else.