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Retail Operations: Safety and hygiene measures post lockdown

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The shockwaves that created for businesses around the world isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The impact of the pandemic will be felt even after it has been eradicated. In the meantime, the myriad of changes in consumer behavior will change the ways brands and retailers do business for ever to come. Hygiene and safety will be on the top of the list post the crisis and only organisations that are prepared for the new reality with complete standard operating procedures will be able reap the benefit.

Retail Operations: Safety and hygiene measures post lockdown

Whenever the on-going is lifted, it will be a crucial time for retail businesses across industries. They will have a difficult yet decisive task of ensuring safety and hygiene and instilling confidence in both internal and external customers in every possible way.

A report by () has outlined the necessary social distancing and sanitisation guidelines that brands, and retailers must exercise to ensure safety and hygiene for both staff and consumers once business resumes.

MANUFACTURING / WAREHOUSE OPERATIONS / STORES
Overall Precautionary Measures

– Provide Thermo-Guns and screen all personnel for fever and cold
– Provide masks to all employees (keep some masks in the spare in case an employee reports to work without a mask)
– Identify a room or area where someone who is feeling unwell or has symptoms can be safely isolated
– Create a Rapid Response Team of at least 2 managers who will monitor employees with infections / symptoms and will take necessary actions
– Empanel a doctor/doctors for health checks
– Get signed self-declarations on health conditions by all personnel on a site

MANUFACTURING / WAREHOUSE OPERATIONS /STORES
Social Distancing Measures

– Cancel all non-critical meetings, recreational activities, locker room access and mock drills
– Ensure that items required to be kept in lockers such as mobile phones should be sanitised before keeping them in and after they are retrieved
– Define maximum occupancy limit for all buildings and enclosed areas
– Increase employee transportation capacity and modes, ensure social distancing while transportation Cancel access of visitors to organisation’s facilities/premises
– Restrict loading / unloading activities to ensure minimal interaction between personnel
– Space out employee amenities with markings on queue managers
– Stagger shift timings to ensure shifts do not over-lap so that social distancing is maintained at the start/end of shifts

E-RETAILERS/ E-COMMERCE
Delivery/Logistics Operations

– Tie-up with delivery partners for contactless delivery
– Ensure that company’s delivery staff can visit the customer’s residence with the products and requisite sanitisation materials (mask, gloves, glasses and sanitisers)

Measures for Vendors
– Sanitise stocks when dispatched from warehouse and re-sanitise when accepted at store
– Screen all drivers (temperature check). Also ensure they wear masks and sanitise hands
– Making sure that drivers and loading-unloading staff have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
– Restrict the number of items that can be exchanged / returned for online orders. Furthermore, set up proper procedure so that returns are thoroughly sanitised

STORE OPERATIONS
Overall Precautionary Measures

– Plan store openings and strategies keeping COVID-19 hotspots and non-hotspot areas in mind
– Install no-touch trash bins, instruments such as sneeze guards / protective screens at checkouts/cash counters
– Encourage quick shopping options like order on phone and pick from outside the store
– Ensure trial rooms are disinfected with spray, pre and post each customer trial to build customer confidence and for staff safety
– Ensure no customer or staff touches merchandise without proper sanitisation
– Set up a process wherein tried garments are kept in dedicated trial rooms. Next morning, the garments from the previous day are to be steamed and put back on display
– Ensure trial room tokens are sanitised after every use

STORE OPERATIONS
Sanitisation Measures

– Install sanitisation products, and preventive guideline posters at all entry and exit points
– Disinfect surfaces, including doorknobs, handrails, the POS system, tables and desks, front entrance, carts, registers and bathrooms with 1 percent sodium hypochlorite or phenolic disinfectants at regular intervals for the entire duration a store is open.
– Frequent sanitisation of store premises at regular intervals to be carried out.
– Provide Bio-Degradable gloves, masks to staff
– Place sanitising hand rub dispensers at prominent places around the workplace Make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled
– Ensure physical distancing by keeping a distance of at least 6 feet between employees
– Mandate the staff using public transport to sanitise themselves before entering the store  Encourage customers to use cleaning stations to wipe trolleys, basket, etc.
– Ensure that items required to be kept in lockers such as mobile phones should be sanitised before keeping them in and after they are retrieved

STORE OPERATIONS
Billing & Payment

– Encourage contactless payment options such as Paytm, Google Pay, UPI
– Mandate cashiers to extend a tray to receive or return currency / cards for payments
– Ensure plenty of cash tills and mobile checkouts to reduce billing time
– Adopt measures to sanitise cash before it gets accepted
– Ensure cashiers wear gloves while dispensing cash
– Replace physical bills with softcopy to be sent to customers via email/ SMS/WhatsApp
– Allow customers to exit the store if there is no beep. Do away with bill punching / checking of carry bags post purchase

This article is based on a report by the Retailers Association of India (RAI). The full report could be downloaded for free here.