The New Abnormal: Retailing in a Covid World

by Steve Zalkin, president, NAUMD 

As states continue to reopen, many uniform retailers are faced with a new reality. Business is anything but normal, and until there's a vaccine or treatment, this is unlikely to change. 

In an industry where service reigns supreme, striking a balance between safety and service will continue to be a challenge. How, for example, do you measure a customer for a uniform or body armor without the risk of spreading the virus? Can you allay the fear of customers and make them comfortable in a Covid world? 

It goes without saying that all uniform retailers should supply team members with PPE, and that includes gloves, masks and protective eyewear. Sanitizing stations should be set up throughout the store, and wipes should be used to clean surfaces before and after fittings and made available during customer contact. Other practical tips are offered by the CDC, and can be read by clicking on the below links: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-small-business.html 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/grocery-food-retail-workers.html

 One consistent theme is good hand hygiene. After very simple and common tasks like making change at the cash register, hands should be sanitized. I saw in practice at a local floral shop the front door handles sanitized after every customer leaves the building. 

What if you need to visit the customer on site? At the moment, many will not allow salespeople into their facilities for fittings. One solution may be to provide fitting tools and videos so that customers may measure themselves. NAUMD member Armor Express has such a procedure in place, and example of which can be found on their website: 

https://www.armorexpress.com/covid-19-information/ 

Apparel technology, too, is available for those seeking long term solutions. The following are examples: 

https://sizer.me/ 

http://sizestream.com 

https://bodidata.com/ 

The Covid outbreak is a human tragedy that has wreaked havoc on the global economy. Doing business in a Covid world isn't easy, and in many instances, is costly. But its effects can be mitigated with guidance, creative solutions and forward thinking business practices.