With many restaurants closed or offering limited hours, people are cooking and eating at home more than they did before the outbreak of COVID-19 and will probably continue to do so for some time. Retail food locations, however, are one of the few places where it is impossible not to be around larger groups of people.
As a result, customer expectations are changing dramatically, and the new normal for grocery stores includes increased opportunities for curbside pickup and delivery, exclusive hours for seniors and those with compromised immune systems, socially distanced lines and signage, sanitized carts, contact-less payment, and hand-sanitizer gel packets for everyone. Many stores now require masks even if not legally required, limit how many customers can be in the store at one time, and no longer provide food samples. As an essential business, food retailers have remained opened throughout the pandemic, requiring them to quickly rethink how they run their business in order to meet customer and employee concerns related to health and wellness.
Organization Is Key
Developing a health and safety plan to protect both staff and customers is an effective way to stay organized, but it is only half the battle — implementing those plans can present an entirely different challenge. New requirements for staff include additional safety protocols such as staff temperature checks, the mandatory wearing of masks and gloves, new cleaning procedures and other revised systems. It’s a lot to keep track of and calls for strong attention to detail.
Utilizing cloud-based technology is an efficient and cost-effective way to help manage the required tasks, and new online tools are quickly becoming available to increase and enhance efficiencies when it comes to oversight of employee assignments.
One such tool is thenewTask Management application, available exclusively through DayMark’s MenuCommand® Kitchen Automation Platform. This application lets store managers track and oversee employee tasks and scheduling, while also documenting the progress of ongoing store operations. The app can also store training material for additional cleaning and sanitization procedures that are vital to maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.
In addition, the new Receiving Module, also from DayMark, provides managers with the ability to track received shipments of goods both at the store level and the corporate level. Data points such as non-conformances, short-ships, and vendor performance can be recorded with an easy-to-use interface and a variety of intuitive features.
Health and Safety Are Top Priority
When it comes to health and safety, using technology to track and screen employee health is now a fact of daily life. Both the Task Management application and the Receiving Module feature unique added utilities that record daily health details, including temperature levels taken with an infrared thermometer. When staff members are designated as ‘sick’ in Task Management, they cannot be assigned tasks until they are determined to be healthy; when delivery drivers do not pass the Receiving Module’s health assessment, their shipment can be refused.
Keeping staff supplied with the right safety equipment can also be a challenge – and can affect a store’s bottom line. One approach worth considering is antimicrobial fabric gloves that can help stop the spread of bacteria and are machine washable. These gloves are breathable and made of lightweight fabric that provides dexterity to perform everyday tasks. The SafetyApplied Antimicrobial Gloves offered by DayMark include touchscreen capability in the index and thumb fingertips, making the gloves ideal when working with POS systems and smart devices. Store operators can assign gloves to customer-facing employees, giving them the ability to protect themselves and the public and allocating difficult-to-secure disposable gloves to essential, back-of-house employees and tasks.
Stay Safe, Stay Open
Delivering a positive and safe shopping experience that meets customer expectations and complies with local and state safety regulations is critical to maintaining a positive brand image and reputation. Using cutting-edge technology ensures the safety of employees and the public, and goes a long way toward building customer confidence.
Article originally appeared on the Progressive Grocer website.