How to Encourage Safe Shopping

There are two reasons to encourage safe shopping practices in your business—some places require it, and all consumers want it. Today’s shoppers are asked to keep a safe distance from each other, to wear a mask, or to wait if you’ve reached the maximum allowed in your store. While most shoppers understand why, it takes some getting used to.

So how do you make safe shopping easier for them? Here are some ideas to help customers feel safe, without taking all the fun out of shopping at your business.

Know The Facts First

It’s easier to implement safe shopping practices if you know which ones produce the best results. You’ll know what to emphasize as you train your staff. And it can help with messaging to customers who may have questions.

Here’s some expert guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Social distancing – Maintain a 6-foot space between people to reduce transmission. These guidelines help you answer questions like: Why six feet? How does it apply in different situations?
  • Cloth face covering – Reduces the spray of respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. Take a look at this resource to answer questions like: Who should/should not wear a mask?  What adaptations should be made?

Train Your Staff

You wouldn’t hesitate to train your staff on a new product or service. After all, you want everyone on the same page so customers have a consistent experience. The same is true when it comes to encouraging safe shopping. Think of it as an extension of your customer service efforts.

Get started by developing a written employee policy for practices like wearing face masks. Workfest suggests it include the following elements: Why is it necessary? When/how to wear masks? Who provides the masks? What consequences will staff members face if it’s not followed?

This policy can serve as the basis for your on-going training efforts. In addition, think about how you want employees to reinforce safe-shopping practices with customers. For example, how do you handle a shopper who forgot their mask at home? Role playing can be a great way to practice those skills.

Make It Easy to Shop Safe

You want customers to enjoy their shopping experience. That means helping, not patrolling them. So make it easy to be a safe shopper by setting up an environment where “following the rules” is painless.

Here are some proactive steps you can take to encourage safe shopping:  

  • Communicate expectations in advance – Let customers know what shopping is like in your store. Do they need to practice social distancing? Are face masks mandatory or optional? Most customers will happily comply, if they know the rules before they shop. They’ll also be encouraged to learn what steps you’re taking to keep them safe. Use your social media platforms to deliver the message. And post signs in the store to remind shoppers.
  • Modify your layout – Many businesses are tweaking their store layout to support social distancing. For example, a restaurant might pull out some tables to maintain the 6-foot distance.  Other businesses put markers on the floor so shoppers can space out in the checkout line.
  • Provide face masks – Give customers one less hurdle to safe shopping by providing free face masks to those who may have forgotten theirs. It’s a goodwill gesture and conserves a customer who is already at your store. Some businesses are experimenting with discount coupons to shoppers who enter the store wearing a face mask.
  • Give customers an alternative – Not every customer is able or willing to follow safe shopping guidelines. So give them another option to reduce the human contact. For example, they could place an order online or over the phone, then pick it up at curbside without ever having to get out of their car.

While safe shopping practices may be the rule in some places, buyers everywhere think about it before they enter your store. Use these ideas to show them it’s never been easier (or safer) to shop at your business.