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Essential Retail – Managing the impact of Covid-19

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For anyone who braved a trip to the supermarket this weekend, you’ll know that empty shelves are becoming an all too common sight.

As of today, there are more the 340,000 cases of Covid-19 worldwide and this is having a profound effect on retailers.

One group of stores that are under enormous pressure to remain open, staffed and fully stocked are “essential retailers”. By essential retailers we’re referring to the grocery and convenience stores, and the pharmacies that are remaining open during social distancing to keep the population fed and healthy.

According to Helen Dickinson, head of the British Retail Consortium, “There is £1bn more food in people’s houses than there was three weeks ago.”

This monumental surge in demand is putting incredible strain on supply chains and employees.

Retailers are working hard to make sure everyone is getting the supplies they need, whether that’s limiting the number of products per transaction of hand sanitiser or toilet paper, or dedicating an hour in the morning for the most vulnerable groups of people to shop.

For pharmacies, it’s also been a very challenging time. With the huge amount of information about Covid-19 online, and many questions about the virus still unanswered, pharmacists have the tough job of stopping the spread of misinformation and educating the public.

All essential retailers need access to the most accurate and up to date information at any given time, to keep customers and themselves safe.

In the past few weeks, our customers have been using the StorIQ platform in inventive ways to manage their businesses through the outbreak.

We’d like to share some of them with you.

Health and Safety Compliance

While the country is being advised that social distancing is the best course of action to slow the spread of Covid-19, delivery services are at capacity, and that means people are still having to make trips to the shops.

High footfall in supermarkets and pharmacies means an increased chance of close contact between customers and of course members of staff. So, it’s more important than ever that health and safety standards are being adhered to.

StorIQ customers are using forms and checklists to make sure their employees and customers are safe. These can easily be updated by Head Office teams, so they know stores are always working towards the latest government guidelines and in-store directives.

Sending Newsflash updates to stores

With Boris Johnson scheduling a daily update to the nation on Covid-19, new information and guidelines are released constantly.

It’s important that this government advice and new ways of working are disseminated quickly and easily to store teams – somewhere that’s not hard to miss!

Our customers have been using StorIQ Newsflashes, to update their store teams. These appear at the top of every store dashboard, above their task panel, so you can be sure your messages are getting to the right people.

Compliance reporting on key communications

As well as knowing the information you send to stores is easy to access, you also need to know whether your communications have been actioned.

If you are sending a key communication to stores – for example training teams on the new cash handling process – you need to know that your managers have done what you’ve asked.

With StorIQ’s compliance reporting you can get instant visibility of who has completed the task, who needs some more help, and who is yet to action. You can send reminders to those who still need to complete and address any flagged tasks.

That way, you can be sure that your standards are upheld in-store.

Making sure stores are fully stocked – in store and back of house

Stockpiling is a real issue for supermarkets and pharmacies and will remain a challenge in the weeks to come.

Shortages of products are inevitable. These shortages also reach the back of house. Operations teams are working tirelessly to make sure there is food on the shelves, but it’s easy to forget the surge in cleaning products, hand sanitisers, gloves and masks that are needed for staff.

Some StorIQ customers have been using our department tasks functionality to make sure their stores have all the equipment they need to stay safe and do their job.

They can raise a task on their dashboard, and this will notify the relevant team in head office. Each task is given a number to track the issue, and there’s loads of great reporting that’s created.

Increase levels of cleanliness and checks

With cleanliness of the utmost importance, and stores increasing the frequency of their cleaning checks, it’s important to be able to communicate this increase in frequency to your stores.

Set daily forms and cleaning checks for stores, and access to all the accompanying compliance reporting.

Completing store visits remotely

As social distancing measures increase, and with all non essential travel advised against, our customers are looking for ways to see their stores, without having to visit stores.

With StorIQ, you can see every store, every day.

You can send a request for photos to stores, stores can easily take a photo on their tablet, and you can provide feedback – without having to put at risk unecessarily.

If you need any advice on managing your retail operations during this turbulent period, then please get in touch – we’ll be happy to help!

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