Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?
Many retailers emerging from the COVID-19 quarantine have created business reopening playbooks. These include wide-ranging strategies founded upon social distancing, limited occupancy and extensive sanitizing procedures. The objective is to convey trust and credibility that their business is a safe environment for shoppers and store employees. We’ve already seen numerous commercials showing masked employees wiping grocery conveyor belts, etc.
Technology providers are presenting a myriad of coronavirus-inspired offerings to facilitate reopening, including hand sanitizer dispensers, thermal imaging and computer vision cameras for taking customers’ temperature (and their photo), footfall traffic sensors for occupancy measurement and analytics data, floor decals and signage for communicating social distancing and directional traffic patterns, along with numerous mandatory hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing procedures and cycles.
McDonald’s is requiring that bathrooms, the front service counters and all “high-touch” hard surfaces be sanitized every 30-minutes and self-order kiosks and dine-in tables “after every use.” Employees are expected to wash their hands every 30-minutes.
Reopening playbooks and opportunistic devices make many promises but beg the question, “So what?” What do you do when your device alerts you that a shopper has a temperature of 101°F? I can only imagine the legal ramifications (HIPAA) of emailing a person’s identity and their temperature through unsecured systems. How do you, or your shoppers, know that sanitizing is being done?
Many of these efforts make for good optics but lack substance. This was substantiated during a recent conversation with a retail manager in which she commented on all the visual references to cleaning and sanitizing in her company’s advertising, but said “all I see in the store is a person without a mask mopping the floor.”
One element missing is accountability, which is critical to building trust and credibility with shoppers and employees. The ability to certify, audit and trace incidents and prove that mandatory procedures were followed will help expedite the return to a new normal. A quote in McDonald’s playbook — “We only get one chance to do this the right way” — amplifies the importance of these requirements for the brand.
The benefits of a task and training datalogging, reporting, dispatching and responding application include:
- Accountability for brand/corporate requirements for COVID-19 response and beyond;
- Visibility and reporting across all tiers and disciplines of corporate management;
- Compliance and traceability of required workflows and processes;
- Audits and affidavits for legal protection;
- Certification and affirmation for customers and employees.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think documented accountability matters more now as stores reopen, or will customers trust the optics, quickly forget the threats and return to shopping as usual? In what ways can retailers best assure compliance of COVID-19 procedures at store level?