As social distancing and self-isolation become the new normal, many shopping centers are running at limited capacity or have been forced to close down entirely.
Amidst these difficult circumstances, we know your focus is set on supporting your tenants in every way that you can. While you can’t increase foot traffic and sales for everyone, you can make this period less stressful for your tenants. Here are a few steps you can take:
1. Promote Home Delivery Options
Just because customers can’t visit your shopping center the way that they are used to doesn’t mean they can’t continue to spend money at your center. Encourage respective tenants to explore curbside and pickup options. Restaurants and food service tenants are obvious opportunities for this tactic, but as quarantine enforcements are rolled back in your area you will want to include other tenants as well. Many shoppers will be hesitant to jump back into crowds even after retail re-opens, and providing them plenty of curbside and pickup options that limit their contact with others can help mitigate fears of shopping at your center post quarantine.
It is equally crucial to promote these services on behalf of your tenants through the right channels. You can leverage your shopping center’s social media presence to reach out to your followers and spread the word about the availability of home delivery. Additionally, you should send regular updates to your existing customers to let them know about it by using a text message marketing system for this purpose.
It is also essential to highlight the precautions you’re taking to ensure your tenant’s safety. From mandatory temperature screenings to regular sanitization of high traffic areas - make sure your marketing campaigns highlight these steps. It can go a long way to make your customers feel confident about shopping at your center.
2. Implement Social Distancing
If you want customers to visit your shopping center now and after quarantine, you have to create a safe and healthy space for them. In other words, you should take adequate steps to ensure that social distancing is maintained throughout your shopping center. This is essential to safeguard your customers as well as tenants and their staff.
The most effective way of implementing social distancing is to place floor markers six feet apart at cash registers. You can also use this strategy in high traffic areas such as entry and exit doors as well as common seating spaces. Additionally, you can re-arrange your food court’s seating arrangement to space out the tables.
Adopting these measures will assure your visitors that they are in a safe space. This, in turn, will encourage them to spend more time at your shopping center. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to buy different products or grab a quick snack before heading out.
3. Prioritize Hygiene
If you’re running a shopping center, you likely already use quality standard cleaning procedures to maintain a hygienic environment. A pandemic is the right time to upgrade your janitorial services if need be and make them known to your customer. Make sure that common spaces are cleaned more frequently and visibly. Likewise, it is crucial to sanitize center entrances, food court tables, store entrances, etc. in front of shoppers as well.
Additionally, you can provide mall employees with masks and gloves which can protect them and shoppers . It is also recommended that you provide hand sanitizer throughout your shopping center.
While adopting these steps is necessary, it is equally crucial to make your mall shoppers aware of them through your various marketing channels. The key is to win your shopper’s trust by showing that you care about their health and safety. This, in turn, will encourage them to shop at your center and through social media share with others the places where they feel safe to shop.
4. Maintain Communication With Your Shoppers
It may seem like you don’t have anything to say with most or all of your tenants currently closed, but that is not the case! The human beings that power your center and the center itself is part of your community. Moreover, this quarantine is temporary, and your center will re-open. Use that angle to connect with your shoppers across all of your channels and keep your brand top of mind during quarantine.
Shoppers have a limited amount of time and money, and when your center re-opens, you want to be sure you are on their short list of places to go. You can’t afford shoppers forgetting about the great things your tenants and the center have to offer because you didn’t remind them.
Additionally, don’t assume you should stop acquiring subscribers! Now more than ever you should be running acquisition campaigns for mobile numbers, emails, and social followers so that you can communicate with as many shoppers as possible now and when you re-open.
Need a little help crafting your messages? Check out this blog where we provide specific COVID-19 messaging for shopping centers.
5. Maintain Communication With Your Tenants
Communication is the key to managing any crisis. A pandemic isn’t an exception. Maintaining an open and two-way communication channel with your tenants can go a long way to ease their stress. Make sure you keep them posted about the measures you’re taking to safeguard their businesses by using a tenant notification system.
It is also recommended that you encourage tenants to reach out to you whenever they face any issues. Additionally, you should let them know about your center’s strategy for the post-pandemic era and invite feedback and suggestions from them to make them feel valued.
It is worth mentioning that you shouldn’t give false hope to your tenants. The key is to keep your communication transparent, even when you have bad news such as an indefinite shutdown. You just have to assure them that you’ve got their back even when the going gets tough. Even a comforting “we’re in this together” message can go a long way to boost their morale.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a plethora of unprecedented challenges for shopping centers. However, supporting tenants through these turbulent times should be of the utmost importance. From making operational changes to pivoting your communication strategy- you can take various steps to support your tenants.
You can also refer to some of the reliable resources for information on the pandemic to keep up with the best practices as well.
How is your shopping center dealing with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic? Share your views in the comments section below.