The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our hospital communities and truly impacted the hospital retail industry. In March, many hospital gift shop operations were temporarily closed, while approximately less than 25% remained open. More than six months later, the hospital retail industry is seeing a shift in operations, adapting to the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and pivoting from a primarily brick-and-mortar-style operation to creating an online e-commerce (virtual) shopping experience. To successfully reopen your gift shop, it’s essential to develop a physical and digital transformation plan.
When developing a plan consider the following:
- Ensure all necessary departments are included in the planning process, i.e. administration, information technology, volunteers, etc.
- Safety is of utmost priority. Ensure all in-person and online safety protocols are met, including HIPAA compliance.
- Understand the hospital administration’s expectations of the gift shop.
- Is it an essential or non-essential hospital operation?
- Is it considered an amenity, break-even, or required to pledge a profit?
- Create multiple sales revenue projections/scenarios (use 2019 actual sales as a measurement tool).
- Consider a “phased” re-opening approach.
- Create a virtual shop for the hospital intranet, providing shop images and videos, product pricing with payment options, and delivery/pick-up schedule.
- Coordinate with proper hospital departments to create online payment system, i.e. payroll deduction, credit card, etc.
- Experiment with Facebook Live, Instagram, Pinterest, or Zoom to showcase your gift shop and product.
- Setup window displays to showcase products. Include pricing and information for online purchases.
- Expand virtual shopping experience to hospital community members.
- Establish gift shop in-person shopping hours.
When creating a plan, it’s best to keep an open mind, be ready and willing to modify procedures, and be prepared to adapt to the constantly changing guidelines within the hospital community.
Just as volunteers are the heart of health care, hospital gift shops are the heart of the hospital.
If you are interested in participating in a hospital gift shop peer learning discussion group, click here.