Improving Retail Store Operations to Ensure Clean and Safe Stores
The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically changed retail for the foreseeable future. With customers wary of entering public spaces and associates nervous about their own health and well-being, priorities have shifted substantially to emphasize safety and cleanliness above all else. And as stores begin to reopen, retailers will have to manage the increased customer traffic and rapidly changing regulations to provide a safe environment for associates and customers.
This isn’t an easy task to accomplish. Not only are retailers expected to implement new policies and initiatives consistently across all stores, but they also have to adhere to safety regulations that vary by state and locality and react quickly to changes in the severity of the pandemic. Overcoming this challenge isn’t impossible, but requires streamlining communication across your organization and simplifying how your store associates complete in-store tasks.
Here are a couple ways that you can streamline store operations to ensure that stores are consistently clean and safe for customers and associates:
1. Empower Real-Time Communication Across Your Organization
Right now, safety initiatives are more important than any other projects in-store. However, using email or phone calls to communicate safety-related tasks will inevitably result in uneven execution across all stores. Maybe a store manager doesn’t see an email until the next day or misses an email entirely; maybe store associates are inconsistently notified about new safety initiatives, and some aren’t notified at all. This can be disastrous, with some stores executing new safety initiatives perfectly and others executing poorly.
An intelligent peer-to-peer communication system has the ability to streamline this process for corporate staff, field and store managers, and store associates. This gives them one single, shared solution where they can immediately distribute critical information in real time, all without having to switch between applications. Corporate can instantly send out updated safety information to field managers, store managers, and associates across the company. Field managers can quickly target messages directly to associates using system-updated distribution lists and message templates. This ensures that communication is quick and consistent across all stores, with all employees receiving critical messages as soon as possible.
Certain peer-to-peer communication systems excel in a retail environment. These systems utilize existing organizational hierarchies to provide specific levels of access and permission to specific roles, ensuring that communication is both controlled and compliant with labor regulations. They can also exchange information with other store operations systems, such as task management, so communication can be more effectively used to launch tasks, note that tasks are completed, and follow-up on completed tasks.
2. Give Store Associates a Prioritized List of Daily Tasks
New safety initiatives inevitably mean more work for store associates to accomplish. From refilling hand sanitizer and hand wipe stations to ensuring that social distance signage is prominently displayed, store associates have to juggle completing these new initiatives with other COVID-19-related tasks, such as curbside pickup orders and restocking empty shelves. Without a way to reference what tasks are pending and what tasks are top-priority, store associates won’t have the direction they need to carry out critical initiatives quickly and consistently.
To help store associates ensure that all safety initiatives are promptly carried out, you can provide them with mobile access to a prioritized list of their daily tasks. With real-time task management, you can place all of their active in-store tasks at their fingertips, ensuring that they will always know which safety-related tasks are the most important, which ones they still have to complete, and which tasks can be postponed until later. If a task changes or needs to be reassigned, store managers can immediately update the relevant associates in real time, sending updates directly to their mobile devices. This automatically prioritizes daily tasks for store associates, ensuring that no safety-related task is forgotten.
While COVID-19 will certainly pose a challenge to retail organizations for months to come, it doesn’t have to prove disastrous for your store operations. By synchronizing communications and simplifying store execution processes, you can ensure that stores are consistently clean, providing a safe environment for your store associates and your customers.
To learn more about how to streamline store operations across your retail organization, check out our recent white paper, “Improving Retail Execution and Communication in Times of Uncertainty.”