Hundreds of shoppers visit supermarkets and groceries every day. Most people spend hours inside the premises to complete their weekly shopping list and restock their supplies. Many also rush in and out to buy an item or two that they need.
The current pandemic, though, brought changes to the way consumers shop for groceries. Although many people still frequent supermarkets, some are still hesitant and even anxious about going back to their routine.
Supermarket chains, however, have not been lax in dispelling the doubts and fears of shoppers. They have implemented additional measures to meet the needs of consumers and make them feel safe inside the premises.
These actions also help ensure the safety of everyone on their premises, including their employees.
Enhancing the Safety of Shoppers in Supermarkets
Here are the top five ways supermarkets are ensuring the safety of shoppers and giving them a less stressful shopping experience:
1 – Limiting the number of customers inside the supermarket
With social distancing still one of the crucial safety measures that reduce the spread of viruses, setting a limit for the number of customers allowed in the store at a time helps maximize this safety practice.
The traditional way of limiting people inside a store is to have an employee positioned at the entrance to keep track of the customer count. However, many supermarkets and establishments are also relying on people-counting analytics.
People-counting technology makes use of electronic devices installed at strategic locations to count the number of people as they walk into business premises.
This technology provides real-time traffic. Each person who enters the supermarket is automatically counted and added to the existing number of shoppers inside. When the number reaches the set limit, employees will be notified and will temporarily stop people from entering.
With this technology, businesses can avoid the need to hire additional workers or give the ones on duty the extra task of counting their customers.
People-counting technology also provides supermarkets and other establishments with other data that can improve their operations and business. The information gathered can help with heat mapping, crowd analytics, and queue management.
2 – Reducing crowd density
With the limitation in the number of customers, there is a need to reduce the time shoppers spend inside the supermarket. This can be done by improving the efficiency of their shopping experience.
Products should be displayed in ways that encourage faster customer decision-making purchases.
Additionally, many supermarkets have started changing the music they play in the store to create an atmosphere conducive to faster action instead of slow and relaxed movement.
Customers may also end up spending a lot of time waiting for help on the floor and queuing for check-out. Managers, therefore, are now more vigilant about staffing their supermarkets to match the demand.
Many supermarkets have also started training more employees in providing value-added services, such as fish cleaning and sanitizing, so that customers can shop faster and make better decisions more quickly.
Supermarkets are also encouraged to offer a pickup service. With customers calling in their orders for their groceries ahead of time, they won’t have to spend time inside the store.
This option also calls for less contact with others, since the shopper does not need to enter the building. An employee can bring out customer purchases directly to them, curbside.
With the current health threat, supermarkets are creating an environment that encourages shopping more and waiting less.
3 – Minimizing physical contact among customers and employees
Implementing social distancing measures is one way of reducing physical contact among customers and workers. However, supermarkets have also put into place other methods.
Many retailers have started limiting cash handling within stores. Supermarkets are also encouraging customers to use cash and credit cards to minimize germ exposure. They have also adopted new technology that allows shoppers to simply insert and pull the card out without touching the device.
Additionally, establishments have redirected the flow of traffic inside the premises. They have repositioned shelves and posted directions to encourage a one-way flow. This helps minimize contact among shoppers.
Also, supermarkets have added sneeze guards and plexiglass barriers to check-out lanes as additional barriers to protect employees and customers.
Another safety measure that has been implemented is stopping the sales of reusable bags temporarily to help prevent the spread of bacteria.
4 – Displaying visual nudges that remind customers to follow safety protocols
Sometimes shoppers need some reminders they have to follow that are important to safety. Because of this, supermarkets are investing in visual nudges that customers can quickly understand and follow.
Aside from posting text signs, supermarkets are also displaying posters of mask-wearing customers and employees. These reminders provide models for shoppers to follow and establish norms within the store.
Also, in addition to arrows and signs, many supermarkets are using temporary specially designed displays and barriers to help customers move in the safest and fastest way possible. Aside from directing traffic, these features work as branding tools as well.
Retailers have been redesigning their premises to make social distancing requirements clear and consistent and at the same, provide a socially positive and stress-free shopping experience.
5 – Stepping up their cleaning and sanitizing efforts
Keeping the premises and frequently handled items inside the supermarket clean and sanitized is now a must. As such, employees are sterilizing shopping and hand carts as often as possible.
Many supermarkets also provide sanitizing wipes to customers upon entry to clean off the shopping and hand carts.
Stores are also making it easier for customers to keep their hands clean and germ-free. There are alcohol and hand sanitizer dispensers around their premises, which shoppers can use anytime.
Some supermarkets have also set up handwashing stations so that shoppers can wash their hands with water and soap when needed.
All employees are encouraged to wash their hands frequently as well, especially cashiers who handle money and have longer and more interactions with customers.
Finally, aside from the daily mopping and wiping down of surfaces, supermarkets have to perform a deep clean and disinfection of the premises at least once a week to get rid of lurking bacteria.
All businesses have already implemented these measures and are still open to employing other methods to keep consumers safe and give them peace of mind as they shop for their essentials. With some additional precautions, everyone can slide back into their grocery shopping routine.
Vic Bageria is the Founder and CEO of Sávant Data System LLC, a retail solutions and services provider focused on empowering businesses with progressive technology solutions such as People Counting and In-Store Analytics to improve operational efficiency and profitability (such as provided by Xpandretail powered by Savant). Vic is an award-winning entrepreneur and visionary, with experience in building recurring revenue technology businesses, who has mastered the intersection of technology, consumer marketing, customer behavior and instore insights.