The COVID-19 outbreak has completely changed the game for grocers, as eCommerce is up 100-200%. Grocers have had to adapt quickly to meet the surging demands of curbside pickup and delivery, while keeping their stores well-stocked and safe for employees and customers. We have based our simple guide to operate a safe and contactless grocery experience during the COVID-19 crisis off the FDA guidelines.

  1.  Employee Health
    It should go without saying that sick employees should stay home. If any employee is exposed to COVID-19, they need to be prescreened for symptoms. All employees must wash their hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, and wear a mask and gloves at all times. 
  2. Cleaning Procedures
    Make sure cleaning products and supplies are readily available and all employees receive proper training on cleaning procedures. All high-touch surfaces should be disinfected and cleaned frequently. Ensure that shopping carts and baskets are sanitized by having disinfectant wipes available to customers to wipe their own carts, or have employees sanitize each cart/basket between customer use. 
  3. Social Distance
    Use signs, audio messages, and/or marks on the floor to encourage social distancing throughout your store, especially at the check-out line. Making aisles one-way, and removing all self-service buffets and salad bars helps avoid crowding. Encouraging customers to order ahead will shorten or eliminate their time in the store. For in-store and curbside pickup, have a designated pickup area that enables for a quick, contactless exchange.
  4. Contactless Pickup
    All coolers and containers used for pickup and delivery should be cleaned, sanitized, and properly maintained. All food items need to be properly wrapped before and during transport. It’s important to operate a contactless pickup experience by establishing curbside pickup zones, and placing orders in the trunk of each vehicle.

Here’s what some retailers are doing to implement the FDA’s Best Practices:

SpartanNash

  • Provides all frontline associates with face basks and gloves
  • Instructs associates to take their temperature each day before coming to work
  • Installed 36-inch plexiglass screens at checkout stands, deli counters, customer service desks, and other high-traffic locations
  • Reserves private shopping time for the elderly, women who are pregnant, and anyone immunocompromised
  • Eliminated sampling, cafe areas, and self-serve stations and prepackaged all fresh food items
  • Extended Fast Lane pickup hours
  • Limits the number of cold, flu, and sanitary products that can be purchased by each shopper
  • Uses FlyBuy Pickup technology to enable a fast, contactless curbside pickup service and increase the amount of customers serviced within a given pickup window.

Giant Eagle

  • Installed plexiglass barriers at checkout stations, pharmacy, and customer service stations
  • Marked the floor at checkout to indicate proper social distancing
  • Bans customers from bringing their own reusable bags into stores
  • Dedicates a shopping hour before stores open for:
    • Healthcare workers and first responders on Thursdays and Fridays
    • Customers ages 60+, differently-abled, or immune-compromised Mondays through Wednesdays
  • Reduced GetGo gas station hours at some locations
  • Keeps stores in key locations for the community and first responders open 24/7
  • Implemented curbside-pickup-only stores

Raley’s

  • Introduced a special program for seniors and at-risk customers that enables them to purchase a prepackaged bag of fresh product and pantry items for $20
  • Implemented a two-item limit on the number of products, including milk and eggs
  • Extended pickup and delivery windows to four different times a day
  • Suspended self-service hot food and salad bar and shifted these items to prepackaged on shelves

Albertsons

  • Put floor markers positioned throughout the store to serve as socially distanced waiting points
  • Installed plexiglass in checkout lanes as a protective barrier 
  • Suspended all self-serve stations 

Harris Teeter

  • Uses floor decals to indicate shoppers spacing in high-traffic areas
  • All shoppers must bag their own groceries if they bring reusable bags
  • Suspended accepting returns
  • Implemented a three-item limit for products like bottled water, toilet paper, etc
  • Limits the number of shoppers in-store to 50% of code capacity
  • Installed protective plexiglass shields at checkout counters
  • Offers free grocery pickup and $5 delivery for vulnerable shoppers

Smart and Final

  • Reserves Tuesday and Thursday mornings for seniors, expectant mothers, consumers with disabilities, and first responders in the medical field
  • Increased hourly wages for employees
  • Eliminated charge for bags, and requiring customers to bag their own groceries if they bring their own bags
  • Limits shoppers to no more than two per group and reducing capacity
  • Requires all customers and associates to wear face coverings
  • Added social distancing decals on the floor 6 feet apart and staggering checkout lines
  • Installed plexiglass sneeze guards

The Giant Company

  • Reserves the first hour of business to those ages 60 and over
  • Increased hourly wages for full-time and part-time employees
  • Limits number of shoppers allowed in the stores at one time and encourages one person from each household to shop at a time
  • Instituted one entrance, one exit, and one-way aisles and register queuing in all stores
  • Provided face shields and masks to all team members, who are required to wear them while in store

Weis Markets

  • Increased store hours
  • Increased hourly wages to all store associates
  • Takes temperature of all employees, and anyone with a fever is sent home
  • Installed plexiglass sneeze guards at all stores and distributed personal protective equipment to all employees
  • Closed all self-service bars and seating areas and suspended sales from service counters, including deli and bakery
  • Encourages online ordering

What FlyBuy is doing to help:

Our location-based system, FlyBuy Pickup, will help you know when your customers are on their way, arriving on property, and where they are located in the curbside pickup zone, so you can have their order ready and waiting as they pull up. FlyBuy enables you to maximize the amount of customers you service within a pickup window, create operational efficiency, and eliminate wait time for customers. At Radius Networks, we are offering a free version of our FlyBuy solution for 90-days to help businesses get a location-based curbside pickup process up and running during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sources: FDA Guidelines and Industry Dive