They haven\u2019t seen a customer for months, and if reports are to be believed, it\u2019s likely that other, unwanted visitors have likely moved in.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBut, for now, let\u2019s assume that the local pest control have done their job, spring and summer lines are on the rails, and the windows are screaming, \u201ccome in and buy!\u201d, what else do retailers need to consider before the curtain goes up once more, in front of an expectant audience?\r\n\r\nBecause, all the while stores have lain dormant, an online predator has been on the rampage, greedily devouring the market as rapidly as possible. It\u2019s time for a physical fightback.\r\n\r\nWell, not quite, because of course, with a few notable exceptions, retailing today is all about a joined-up proposition. Easy and convenient, providing a seamless journey whatever the start point and whatever the destination.\r\n\r\nSo, just what does a successful reopening look like?\r\n\r\n\r\n \tSafe Stores\r\n\r\nIf we don\u2019t feel safe, we\u2019re not going to return. It\u2019s that simple. And while supermarkets have inexplicably relaxed their Covid safe measures, we need to do our grocery shop, so will apply a different level of risk assessment in that instance.\r\n\r\nHowever, for many of us, shopping is all about browsing, the complete antithesis of stocking up on the weekly grocery. So, we\u2019re going to want to browse in safety.\r\n\r\n\r\n \tMultichannel\r\n\r\nJust how seamless is your multichannel offering? Can you effectively manage all your offline and online orders? Automated ordering fulfilment and shipping has never been as critical as it is now.\u00a0\r\n\r\nReducing order processing and delivery times by automating repeatable order management tasks takes the uncertainty out of multichannel operations and allows e-commerce firms to get items out of the door faster. Brands like Shopify and Brightpearl have grown tremendously over the last year because of their ability to support retail automation.. And, additionally, are you offering different delivery options? Because kerbside collection has just gone mainstream.\r\n\r\n \tKnow Your Stock\r\n\r\nOr rather, where it is. Let\u2019s face it, the last time it saw the light of day was many weeks ago. Is it in the right place? Do you know how long it\u2019s been there? Are you on top of your online returns? Because, things are about to take off once again.\r\n\r\n \tDigital Levelling Up\r\n\r\nTime to take a fresh look at your stores. Shrewd retailers will quickly realise that the journey from \u2018safe\u2019 to smart\u2019 stores is a logical path to tread. Time to really understand how your customers shop your stores. Time to exploit the work from home generation and offer live video streaming.\r\n\r\nFor years we\u2019ve talked about digitally enabling the business and it often felt like it was a solution trying to find a problem. Covid-19 is that problem, and is the perfect reason to reimagine the entire store experience.\u00a0\r\n\r\n \tAbove All, Make It Memorable\r\n\r\nAfter a year of lockdown and social distancing restrictions, we\u2019ve become a cynical, judgmental lot, and not only that, we\u2019ve become rather accustomed, after just a few clicks, to stuff simply turning up on our doorstep the next day.\r\n\r\nSo, yes, we\u2019re going to venture out of our bunkers and into the shops, but in so doing, casting something of a critical eye on all that we encounter. And if the experience isn\u2019t positively memorable, we\u2019ll simply revert to clicks once more.\r\n\r\nEven before the global pandemic hit us, retailers were facing a myriad of challenges from all quarters; consumer confidence, shifting behaviours, online promiscuity, lack of loyalty, rising costs \u2013 the list goes on and on. Well, it just got even longer, but simultaneously, many opportunities are now presenting themselves.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt would be too easy to label stores as an expensive overhead in the face of an online tsunami but the truth is rather different. It all depends on the lens through which you view them. Sales driver and brand enabler? Or a costly anchor holding your business back?\u00a0\r\n\r\nThose who see the former are the ones more likely to succeed.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAndrew Busby, CEO of Retail Reflections. Andrew helps retailers understand where the opportunities and threats they need to adapt for lie. That includes being a contributor to Forbes and holding the position of IBM Social Commerce Futurist for over 4 years.