SafetyCulture COO Alistair Venn discusses why priortising safety in stores gives retailers an edge. 

As businesses begin to reopen, it is important that retailers understand and accept that the shopping experience for consumers has changed.

Safety is now among the most important factors for customers when deciding where to shop.

Safety is now not just a compliance box ticking exercise, it’s the difference between further outbreaks and returning to some form of normalcy.

It’s becoming a key part of companies’ competitive advantage.

The retailers who will shine post COVID-19 are the ones best able to adapt responsively to product, workforce, partner, and operations needs during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

A huge priority will be establishing an early warning system that provides real-time data and the transparency required for staff and shoppers to trust the new retail environment. This means empowering those on the frontline.

Here’s four top tips for retailers as we get back to business:

1. Make safety the number one priority

Consistently high standards in managing hygiene, exposure and traceability are key in the new retail environment.

This will help re-establish a sense of security and trust with customers.

Retailers must ensure strict cleaning regimens are applied to all touchpoints on the consumer shopping journey, reduce opportunities for contamination by removing touch screens, and implement safety protocols for both employees and shoppers.

2. Create an early warning system

Empower front line staff with simple, digitised checklists and inspection processes that give you real-time insights and turn issues into actions while creating an audit trail to keep track of everything.

Get rid of inefficient, infrequent, paper-based safety inspections.

Increasing the frequency of checks is critical as you get back to business.

3. Everyone is responsible

Retail is now a risky industry, just like mining or construction.

Everyone needs to take responsibility to create a genuine culture of safety, from the frontline to senior management, putting the safety of their colleagues and customers first.

Compliance alone won’t cut it.

4. Make safety your edge

Customers and staff alike are looking for brands who are committed to safety and give them the confidence to get back to business. Communication is going to be critical.

Retailers must promote their standards and work safety into their brand narratives.

Use checklists to cover areas including correct PPE (gloves and face masks), social distancing and hygiene processes, customer interaction and updates to pick-up or delivery processes.


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