Using Tech to Manage COVID Compliance in Retail
As consumers move back to in-store shopping, retailers have many decisions to make. The rules have changed in our new, ever-evolving COVID-19 world. It’s difficult to find the right balance between cost, safety, and the needs of your customers.
There are national, state and local guidelines, regulations, and laws. There are guidelines from industry associations. There are legal civil liability considerations. Change is also the norm. It is confusing for owners and operators and even more so for frontline employees.
The Retailer's Point of View
Opening the door to customers is the highest priority for retail managers and owners. These locations need to return to traditional forms of income to ensure their survival. But there are many hoops to jump through – not to mention the threat of litigation from employees or customers and compliance related fines should they get it wrong.
The guidelines set forth by the CDC, NRF, and OSHA are excellent starting points for business. Utilizing a technology solution can help businesses manage these changes in realtime. Such a system also allows retailers to quickly notify employees of compliance changes and changes to operational procedures.
The Employee Experience
Receiving timely updates on changes from their employer is just one way in which technology helps employees feel safe and secure while working during this pandemic. Many employees are eager to get back to work, but they’re also concerned about their health. They’re also aware that there is often less staff on each shift to complete their normal tasks – which now includes an extra list of essential COVID-19 compliance tasks. Good organization and planning of both new and old tasks provides a good employee experience and increases efficiency.
On top of needing PPE and following new, stricter cleaning regimes, customer facing employees have to enforce compliance with state and local guidelines. This has already led to some ugly altercations between employees and customers around the country.
Such altercations aren’t always as dramatic as those which make headline news. They can be as simple as a lack of compliance by customers, leading to repeated requests required by staff. Employees need to know that they’re backed by their company in these cases. Clear procedures set in place for dealing with such incidents gives employees the confidence as well as the authority to enforce compliance.
The All-Important Customer Experience
Many customers are happy to follow the guidelines set forth by national, state and local authorities. Often for them this requires the wearing of masks, keeping 6ft apart, and the intermittent need to wait outside because a store is at capacity. Providing simple, fun or entertaining distractions while these customers are waiting is one way some locations keep people waiting in line, rather than shopping elsewhere.
Managing non-compliant customers in a quick and discrete way is also key to ensuring a great customer experience for others. On top of this, clear signage for policies such as mask wearing, 6ft markers on the floor and directional aisle signs establish policy.
Many customers worry about their own safety, and the safety of vulnerable family members who they visit. These customers want to see that businesses are complying with the guidelines issued by the relevant authorities. Displaying this compliance information from a reliable and trusted source is one way to do this.
Getting it Right - Technology Can Help
There’re many reasons to get it right when it comes to complying with guidelines from national, state, and local authorities. From fines for non-compliance to poor employee and customer experiences, it is understandable that many retailers are nervous about the prospects of opening their doors.
TrustPlace offers a digital solution for managing retail location compliance. It offers a checklist-based system to assign different tasks to employees, making it easier to track compliance. Additionally, it permits a retailer to display their full guidelines to customers by scanning a QR code. This type of digital solution keeps retailers organized and systematic in a difficult environment.