Re-opening for business after lockdown: An 8-step guide for merchants.

March 26, 2021

With the end of lockdown just around the corner, many merchants are getting ready to re-open their doors and get back down to business. It is a time for hope, but also for caution and careful planning, as businesses will face a plethora of new challenges and process changes while navigating the “new normal.”

We’ve put together some top tips to help retailers, pub landlords, restaurateurs, hoteliers, and other merchants fully prepare for a safe and successful re-opening post-lockdown.

“There is every chance that with the right support, businesses can begin to trade their way out of danger and towards some degree of prosperity next year.” Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at UK Hospitality.

Step 1: Offer more ways to shop

With a virtual terminal, you can take customer payments over the phone or by link. You simply log in to a secure site, enter the shopper’s details, and take the payment. You don’t need to worry about security and privacy considerations. They are all handled by the Virtual Terminal provider.

Although most conversations around unlocking the country are framed positively, it’s likely that many customers will still be concerned about returning to what was once the norm. For this reason, it’s important to consider keeping or implementing online payment services – such as takeaways or click and collect options – at least temporarily, if not permanently.

For example, it’s been suggested that the recent boost in takeaway culture could be here to stay. So, for restaurants, pubs, and cafes, being able to accept takeaway orders via a virtual terminal – even after re-opening the doors – could be crucial for success, leaving POS terminals free for face-to-face business.

If your business doesn’t yet offer online ordering, why not consider providing this service?

Learn more about virtual terminals.

Step 2: Prepare your premises and equipment

When it comes to bringing your building back to life after lockdown, we recommend carrying out a thorough risk assessment to identify ways in which to mitigate the risks of re-opening.

You’ll need to think about factors such as:

  • A deep clean and disinfection
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Pest control
  • Personal hygiene procedures
  • Food and drink hygiene policies
  • Effective cleaning schedules
  • Waste disposal methods

Read the government’s guidance on preparing your premises.

One helpful resource that could benefit your business is renting extra card machines short-term. Having additional short-term hire card machines in use can help to encourage social distancing amongst staff, reduce queue lengths and times, and make it easier to ensure that the terminals are clean and effectively sanitised between customers.

Step 3: Ready your terminals for trading

This might seem like an obvious part of preparing to re-open, but many people will return to their places of work to find their terminals not functioning correctly.

We advise you to make sure that your terminals charge and function properly at least a week before you resume trading, to allow time for our Technical Support team to help you with any problems you may encounter.

Before you re-open for business, take the time to make sure that all of your terminals have:

  • Full charge and functionality (many terminals take up to 24 hours to fully charge)
  • Undergone the most recent manual or automatic updates
  • Received technical support assistance if required, for example if showing a blue screen error

For more detailed instructions on troubleshooting problems with your payment terminals, visit our Returning to Trading support page.

Step 4: Set up for social distancing

 Your establishment will still need to adhere to social distancing measures once re-opened.

Be sure to give due consideration to things like:

  • Queueing measures
  • Table-side service
  • Socially distanced facilities
  • Your establishment’s capacity
  • Providing staff with face coverings
  • Communicating protocol with your customers

Read the government’s advice on social distancing in the workplace.

 Step 5: Make use of your outdoor space

Restrictions are typically lifting to facilitate outdoor dining before customers can sit indoors, and lots of eateries are creating or expanding outdoor dining areas to allow trading to commence as soon as possible.

Even if your establishment is used to facilitating outdoor dining, it’s still important for your team to be equipped with card terminals that can offer a streamlined and secure service for your customers, particularly as many restrictions will still be in place.

You may also want to consider setting up outdoor product displays, as well as giving your customers the option to pay away from your current fixed point of sale.  

Our PAX A920 terminal is a cutting-edge mobile payment terminal powered by Android technology that gives you the ability to break away from taking payments from one fixed location and bring the till to the customer.  

Not only does this sleek, hand-held terminal accept a variety of contactless payment methods, it’s also able to connect to WiFi, a roaming GPRS, or a GSM signal, so connecting to a secure network signal outside is seamless.

Step 6: Implement customer rewards and incentives

If there was ever a time to introduce loyalty programmes, it’s now. In the current climate, keeping your customers coming back is crucial to your establishment’s continued survival and success.   

According to consulting company Invesp, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%, highlighting just how important customer retention is.

Loyalty apps go a long way towards:

  • Encouraging customer retention and repeat visits
  • Increasing customer spend
  • Promoting new products or services

Find out about our loyalty app, ‘Nominate’.

Step 7: Examine your supply chain

You may want to consider whether your company could source its necessary supplies more locally. This could help to reduce your carbon footprint, something that can be very appealing to today’s environmentally conscious customer.

Step 8: Make the most of the new normal

Making the most of the new normal is something businesses will need to do in order to thrive and survive. Innovation is key for long-term success, so don’t be afraid to keep thinking of new ways to bring business to your customers.

For businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector, the reduction of VAT from 20% to 5%, the rent moratorium, and the potential for a second stint of Eat Out to Help Out are opportunities that can support financial recovery and growth. Meanwhile, retail establishments can also hope to benefit from the rent moratorium, while also harnessing support from available government grants.  

If you’re interested in finding out how we can help you enhance your business’ payment process, simply get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.