How Grocery and C-Store Retailers are Addressing COVID-19 Challenges
Grocery and c-store retail has changed dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 78% of shoppers making a change in where they shop, many are shopping at fewer stores or shopping online instead of going in to retail stores. However, their basket sizes have increased by 25% year over year, since they’re making 13% fewer trips to stores. This massive shift in customer behavior presents an array of new challenges for grocers and c-store retailers, and necessitates a shift in how these retailers conduct their store operations.
Recently, a panel of experts led by Reflexis and Connors Group held a webinar, “P.L.A.N. for the Next Wave of Challenges in Grocery and C-Store Retail,” which presented a number of strategies these retailers can use to improve their store execution, their labor operations, and the customer experience.
Here are the top four takeaways from that conversation:
1. People: Empower and Optimize Staff
Using attestation functionality during the punch-in process can provide greater visibility into whether an employee is sick or not, and can help with tracing which employees have already worked shifts with those identified to be sick. Employee self-service functionality can also make it easier to fill open shifts left by the high absenteeism due to COVID-19, ensuring that stores aren’t understaffed and critical tasks can be completed.
With so many new part-time employees being hired to fill the gaps created by COVID-19, training is also a primary concern for grocery and c-store retailers today. Document management solutions on mobile devices can make it easier for store associates to access training and reference documents, and real-time communication solutions can quickly facilitate training conversations between managers and associates, so employees’ questions are easily and swiftly answered.
2. Labor: Improve Scheduling to Control Costs
Optimizing labor forecasting and scheduling is key to accounting for how COVID-19 has changed business for grocery and c-store retailers. An intelligent workforce management system can account for the variables that make the biggest impact at stores, such as traffic, sales, and in-store workload, ensuring accurate labor forecasts and precise labor schedules. This helps avoid fines for non-compliance, reduces overtime, and removes the guesswork made when manually creating labor schedules.
3. Actions: Adapt Store Execution to New Customer Behaviors
Customers are increasingly turning to curbside pickup, BOPIS, and other ways to shop in order to get what they want quickly and safely. Appointment scheduling applications can help accommodate these new services, giving customers the ability to schedule a time slot for pick up and ensuring that they don’t have to wait in line for their order. This also helps manage the workload associated with employees collecting products for online orders, giving them more visibility into when these orders need to be collected and brought to the fulfillment area.
4. New Processes: Make it Easier for Store Associates to Adapt to New Processes
Store associates must quickly adapt to a number of new initiatives around safety, completing many new tasks such as cleaning carts, packaging food that was previously offered as self-service, and refilling hand sanitizer and hand wipe stations. Real-time task management simplifies these processes by giving store associates a prioritized list of tasks at their fingertips, as well as alerts and notifications when they need to quickly react to an issue in the store. This also provides visibility for store managers who might otherwise not know if tasks have been completed or not, as they can view task status and completed tasks in real time, giving them immediate insight into what tasks have been finished and what tasks still need to be done.
For more insight into how you can address COVID-19 at your grocery or c-store retail organization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.