Creating opening procedures and closing procedures is a great way to ensure your retail store’s day-to-day operations go smoothly.
By documenting and strictly following an opening and closing checklist you’ll ensure nothing gets overlooked. It will also let you and your staff focus on helping customers and improving the in-store experience.
Opening and closing your retail store are integral parts of the day. Use this article as your guide to the benefits and best practices for developing your retail store’s opening and closing procedures checklist.
What to consider before creating a procedures checklist
To make sure you or your staff are getting through everything that needs to be done at the beginning and the end of the day, consider the following before creating an opening and closing checklist:
- How much time does it take to complete all tasks? Knowing this will help you determine the rest of the points on this list.
- How many staff are needed, and when they should arrive? For safety, you should always have at least two people present while opening and closing your retail store, but consider whether having more people would speed up the process.
- Which tasks need to be done every day? Once you’ve outlined the tasks that need to be completed daily, put the list of duties in logical order. This will help inform your opening and closing checklists.
- Where will you keep or display the checklist? If you’re not the one who will be opening and closing the store, your staff needs to be aware of the procedures checklist. Put it in a place that’s easily accessible.
- Nothing is final. You’ll want to test your checklist and adapt it as necessary.
Benefits of having an opening and closing checklist
- Better organization and execution
- More communication between staff
- Improved security and safety
- Savings on costs
Better organization and execution
By creating a checklist, you and your staff will be held accountable for completing each task on the list. If multiple people are opening and closing the store, you can also use the checklist to assign each task to a specific associate.
This way, if duties are not completed or are done incorrectly, you’ll be able to pinpoint the source of the issue. Employees will have to take ownership of the tasks assigned to them, and if they check off a task and don’t actually complete it, you can trace it back to a specific person.
More communication between staff
Creating an opening and closing checklist ensures clear communication between the team members who close the store and the staff responsible for opening it the next day. You can keep a record of issues and disparities, and outline everything that was or was not finished before closing the night before.
Improved security and safety
With a procedures checklist you and your staff will always be reminded to follow security protocol while opening and closing the store. Whether it’s making sure it’s safe to enter, setting the alarm correctly and locking all the doors before leaving or removing high-priced items from window displays, having a checklist ensures each of these tasks gets done.
Savings on costs
Turning off the lights, lowering the thermostat, and making sure all electronics have been shut down may seem like daily tasks you don’t necessarily need a checklist for. But adding them to your procedures checklist will help make sure a day is never skipped. And by being diligent about these small tasks, you can save money on utility costs.
Retail store opening checklist
Start your day off on the right foot by creating a retail store opening checklist. Whether it’s you, a store manager, or a sales associate who’s responsible for ticking these items off the list, outlining the duties will make the process easier.
Start with this checklist and, if necessary, adapt it to your retail store:
- Security and safety inspection
- Opening inspection and housekeeping
- Turn on electronics
- Visual merchandising
- Signage and storefront
- Team huddle
1. Security and safety inspection
Retail robbery tends to happen most during opening and closing. For this reason, there should always be at least two people present while opening your retail store.
Before entering the store, make sure nothing (from the outside) looks suspicious.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are there any broken windows?
- Do you see signs of a break-in?
- Are there unusual cars or people loitering around the area?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, don’t enter the store. Go back to your car or a safe place and call the police.
If everything looks normal:
- Enter the store and lock the door behind you.
- Disable the security alarm if necessary.
- Unlock and lock the door again as more staff members arrive.
- Only leave the door unlocked once the store is open for business.
- Make sure the alarm is working properly and security cameras are on and functioning.
2. Opening inspection and housekeeping
Next, you’ll want to turn on all the lights and do an inspection to make sure there are no issues and that the closing staff completed all the checklist items from the night before.
Follow these steps:
- Look for wet spots on the floor, ceiling, and walls. These could be signs of issues with plumbing, heating, or cooling.
- Check for signs of vermin or pests. If there’s an issue, call an exterminator.
- Perform general cleaning, including sweeping the floor, making sure the fitting rooms are ready for customers, and making sure your windows are clean. You can also make a note of areas that need improvement and share it with your cleaning staff (or closing staff from the night before).
3. Turn on electronics
Before opening to the public, you’ll want to make sure the following electronics are turned on and working properly:
- Point of sale (POS) system. Are your hardware and software working properly?
- Cash registers/tills. Make sure your cash register is balanced and that you have enough cash on hand to give shoppers change when they pay using cash.
- TVs, sound systems, and air conditioning. Are they all turned on and functioning?
- Traffic tracking software. If you’re using people-counting software to track foot traffic, make sure it’s turned on and working.
4. Visual merchandising
Now that you’re sure all the essentials to operate are in order, it’s time to make sure your store is visually appealing and customers can find what they’re looking for.
Get ready for customers by doing the following:
- Ensure shelves and product displays are organized.
- Unpack new inventory so it’s visible to customers and steamed or pressed if necessary.
- Check that the appropriate amount of stock is out on the floor (i.e., the right number of SKUs per style)—this depends on your store layout.
- Dress mannequins appropriately.
- Make sure all products are tagged with size, price, and special pricing, if applicable.
- Do inventory counts for daily stock-taking, also known as cycle counting—a method whereby you count a small quantity of inventory daily.
💡 PRO TIP: Doing inventory counts regularly can help you minimize inventory shrinkage. Consider making cycle counts a part of your weekly routine to ensure your inventory levels are always accurate.
5. Signage and storefront
Regardless of whether your retail store is in a stand-alone building or in a shopping mall, you’ll want to make sure your storefront attracts passersby.
Do this by completing the following:
- Check to make sure signage is correct, and take down signage from the day before if it’s no longer applicable.
- Clean and tidy up your storefront by wiping down the windows and sweeping the sidewalk.
- Put up your sidewalk sign and refresh the messaging.
- Make sure your window displays are attractive and reflect the latest merchandise you have in-store.
6. Team huddle
Before you start interacting with customers, hold a daily team huddle to excite your staff, motivate them to reach their sales goals, and make sure everyone has the information they need to do their best.
During your daily staff meeting, you can:
- Review shifts and individual and team duties to make sure each associate knows what they’re responsible for.
- Review daily and weekly sales goals and discuss what each associate can do to help reach those targets.
- Recap performance from the day before, including sales results and positive and negative customer interactions.
- Discuss how you can improve today, and ask your team to provide feedback.
- Review best practices for health and safety.
- Review active promotions, ways to boost awareness of them, and suggestive selling strategies your team can try.
Retail store closing checklist
Just like an opening checklist, a closing checklist helps you remember basic things such as turning off electronics to save money, but it also helps ensure your store is ready for whoever opens it the next day.
When it’s time to close, start with the following:
- Clear your store
- Daily close housekeeping
- Close registers and POS systems
- Final walkthrough
1. Clear your store
Ten to 15 minutes before closing time, make an announcement so customers know they need to finish trying out products and complete their purchase. This way, they won’t feel rushed.
Then, when closing time comes:
- Check the dressing rooms, bathrooms, and other areas of your store to make sure everyone has left.
- Bring in outdoor signage and anything else that was outside.
- Lock the doors and station a staff member at the door to let last-minute customers and employees out.
- Check customers and employees who are leaving to make sure they’re not taking products that aren’t paid for.
Throughout the day, products get moved around, left at the checkout counter, and hopefully sold. Restocking ensures the store is ready for another day of selling.
- Survey the checkout counter and fitting rooms for merchandise and put items back where they belong.
- Straighten up shelves and fixtures.
- Replace sold inventory by taking more stock from the back and adding it to the appropriate product displays.
3. Daily close housekeeping
A shop owner takes care of their storefront by wiping down the glass door before switching the sign to open.
Making sure your store is clean before you leave will make the next day’s opening process easier and more efficient. Run through this list of daily closing housekeeping duties:
- Complete general cleaning, including wiping down counters and mirrors, and make sure fitting rooms are clean.
- Mop the floors and dust product displays and fixtures.
- Turn off all electronics.
- Take out the trash and recycling.
- Do preparation for the next day. For example, put new arrivals in the appropriate place so opening staff members know the merchandise needs to be unpacked and displayed on the floor.
4. Close registers and POS systems
Before closing up for the night, it’s important to review and reconcile sales. You may decide to manage this task yourself or assign it to a manager or long-term employee you know you can trust.
The procedure you use will depend on the size of your business, but regardless, it should be clearly defined. Here are the common steps to take:
- Set a specific time to close out registers and count cash, noting any discrepancies. This should be done away from the checkout counter and lingering customers, and out of sight from the front door.
- Ensure any carts saved in your POS system are cleared.
- Place tills or cash register drawers in the safe.
- Settle credit card machines.
- Shut down the POS system.
💡 PRO TIP: If store staff use Shopify POS’ save cart feature, encourage them to send carts to no-shows by email at the end of each shift. This is an accessible way to convert more abandoned store sales into revenue and attribute those sales to your store—even if the transaction happened online.
5. Final walkthrough
Before locking the doors and leaving for the night, do a final walkthrough to make sure all the tasks on your closing checklist have been completed.
You’ll want to:
- Make a note of incomplete duties to discuss during your team huddle the next day.
- Ensure employees clock out and know the next time they’re scheduled to work.
- Turn off the lights, turn on the security alarm, double-check that all electronics have been turned off, and lock up.
- For safety, always ensure at least two people are present during closing.
- Check the door one last time before you leave to make sure it’s locked.
Opening and closing procedures: common mistakes to avoid
- Insufficient employee training. Failing to thoroughly train staff on opening and closing procedures can lead to errors, inefficiencies, and potential security risks.
- Neglecting safety protocols. Overlooking safety measures, such as checking all exits and alarms, can compromise the security of the store and the safety of employees and merchandise.
- Inconsistent procedures. The lack of a standardized process for opening and closing can result in important steps being missed or done incorrectly.
- Poor cash handling practices. Not properly training staff on secure cash handling and failing to reconcile the cash register can lead to discrepancies and potential theft.
- Ignoring maintenance and cleanliness. Failing to perform regular maintenance checks and not ensuring the store is clean and presentable can negatively impact customer experience and create hazards.
- Inadequate communication. Poor communication about who is responsible for each task during opening and closing can result in tasks being overlooked or duplicated.
- Not securing sensitive information. Leaving sensitive documents or systems accessible can pose a risk of data theft or breach.
Creating your checklist for opening and closing procedures
Running a successful retail business requires you to wear many hats. From leading your team of associates to setting and tracking sales goals to making sure customers are satisfied, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why standardizing your opening and closing procedures with a living, breathing checklist is key to ensuring your staff knows exactly what’s expected of them. Start with the points above and iterate whenever necessary.
Opening and closing procedure FAQ
What is an opening and closing procedure?
What are the opening and closing activities of a retail store?
Some of the opening activities of a retail store include:
- Turning on key electronics and devices (i.e., POS system)
- Putting signage outside of the store
- Reorganizing product displays and restocking areas
- Holding a team huddle to share sales goals for the day
Some closing activities for a retail store include:
- Ensuring all customers have left before locking up
- Restocking products so openers have less to restock
- Closing out registers and shutting down electronics
- Doing a final walkthrough and locking up the store