Open for business; how merchants can prepare post-lockdown

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Open for business; how merchants can prepare post-lockdown

As more bars, restaurants, shops and hotels emerge from lockdown and we can think about travelling further afield once again, businesses need to take steps to ensure they are ready for increased footfall in the post-pandemic world. We've outlined some of the key areas to be considered as visitors start to return.

Put health and safety front and centre

Strict hygiene measures have played a critical part in lowering the transmission during the outbreak and are going to be crucial to maintain as visitors return. Whilst businesses are eager to welcome overseas tourists again, keeping both employees and customers safe must remain front of mind. For the likes of hotels, bars and restaurants in particular, this will require significant planning in order to be confident of being able to welcome back guests safely. In addition to the more obvious measures such as allowing for social distancing and regular handwashing, remembering areas such as payment terminals, which need to be sanitised regularly, and considerations around reducing contact amongst staff should also be thought through. Having clear safety signage on display not only reminds people of these measures but also provides reassurance to consumers and staff alike.

Prepare for more card payments

Over the course of the pandemic, consumers have been encouraged to opt for card over cash payments in a bid to halt the spread of the virus. In March, cash volumes in Spain dropped by 90% during the first week of lockdown, whilst Ireland reported a drop in ATM withdrawals by 40%. As more services reopen, preparations need to be made to manage the sustained increase in card transactions that is expected during this period. Ensuring there is the correct infrastructure to be able to take multiple card payments simultaneously will be one area to consider. Those businesses who rely on a single card reader should invest in extra devices to ensure the speed of service continues as the demand for card payments remains high.

Make the experience positive

Travellers have been denied the opportunity to visit their favourite countries and places for months, and will no doubt be excited by the prospect of returning. Whether operating a bar, shop or hotel, business owners should be looking at ways to improve the experience of those visiting. From finding opportunities to add personal touches, to ensuring cardholders are fully informed and clear in the payment choices available to them when completing a transaction, it all helps to make the overall experience a positive one. As part of this, merchants must ensure those at point of sale are up to date on the latest requirements in line with the Cross-Border Payments EU Regulation. They should also be prepared to provide an explanation on the payment options for cardholders i.e. paying in their home currency with dynamic currency conversion (DCC) or opting to pay in the local currency without DCC. More information on this can be found here.

Businesses will be relieved that it appears that over the next coming months visitors can begin to return. As they navigate reopening, merchants can help ensure they are prepared for the future by taking precautionary measures and ensuring they are doing everything they can to make the experience a positive one.