Complete Guide To
COVID-19 Solutions for Consumer-Facing Businesses
How to Keep Your Employees Safe and Build a Sustainable Future for Your Business
Social distancing orders and heightened safety concerns have forced local businesses to get creative to keep serving customers.
Consumers will continue to expect increased safety precautions and the convenience of fast deliveries, curbside pickups and contactless payments. So how can you prepare your business to satisfy these new consumer habits and safety concerns without an expensive technology overhaul?
Worldlink Integration is a national technology deployment services provider specializing in the retail, restaurant and grocery sectors. We believe in stabilizing retailers with technology, processes and systems that can adapt to the changing consumer shopping landscape while keeping your people safe and business running as usual.
We’re sharing our list of sustainable COVID-19 solutions and recommendations that retailers should prioritize now and in the future.
How to Continue Operating Successfully...
Ready to future-proof your business? Learn how Worldlink can support your next technology deployment project.
How to Continue Operating Successfully
With People In Your Stores
For many essential businesses, in-store traffic is necessary to stay operational. But with increased health risks and new safety guidelines in place, the safety of your employees and customers will need to be a top priority.
Businesses must focus on implementing solutions that limit physical touch points and maintain high cleanliness standards.
The following technologies will help you uphold strict cleanliness standards and ensure your customers and employees feel comfortable and safe while in your store.
To limit the spread of COVID-19, many states have put orders in place to limit occupancy in commonly crowded areas like shopping centers, grocery stores and restaurants.
If you plan to keep your doors open to customers, you need to monitor store capacity to comply with local guidelines and keep your employees safe.
Occupancy-counting technology tallies incoming and outgoing traffic, so you can accurately calculate the number of people in your building at any given time.
Store managers can use a mobile occupancy counter application to manually manage occupancy levels. Or you can install cameras near each store entrance to automate the process.
A recent Mastercard report found that 51% of consumers are now using contactless payment options. Contactless payment options allow consumers and employees to maintain social distance during the checkout process and avoid touching payment systems.
There are a few types of contactless payment technology:
- "Tap and Go" payments using smartphone devices: Common apps include Apple Pay, Google Pay and Venmo.
- Credit card transactions using NFC Credit/Debit cards: NFC stands for "near field communication." It allows chip-enabled credit cards to communicate with payment processors without physical contact. A customer can simply hold their credit card up to the payment processor (a couple inches away) to complete a transaction.
Many consumers (especially younger ones) are already prone to use contactless technology, such as mobile wallets. And signs point to consumers choosing contactless payments over payment cards far into the future. 74% of people have stated that they will continue to use contactless options after the pandemic ends.
Keep high-touch areas sterilized without the use of damaging chemicals
Disinfects surfaces faster and more effectively than chemical cleaners
Small, lightweight UV-C devices are easy to use
UV-C light has been scientifically proven as a way to destroy antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Now, it’s earning renewed attention as a way to sterilize surfaces and merchandise in retail stores to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Chemical cleaners need to sit on surfaces for 2-5 minutes to be effective, making them inefficient for frequent cleanings. Pathogens can also develop resistance to chemicals. Alternatively, they can’t develop resistance to UV-C light, which quickly and effectively destroys microbial cells on surfaces.
UV light devices come in many shapes and sizes to sanitize various in-store items and high-touch areas. Small, portable UV-C devices can be used to sanitize handheld equipment, tester items, personal devices, door handles and products in stores and offices.
Traditional payment terminals are known to spread bacteria easily. More than half of U.S. consumers worry about the cleanliness of payment terminals.
Self-ordering technology allows customers to reduce contact with employees and discourages the use of cash, which is known to be one of the dirtiest things in a restaurant.
Customers also tend to place orders 12-22% larger when they enter them into a kiosk.
In response to COVID-19, some self-service kiosk technologies are now available that dispense hand sanitizer, while others allow for touchless transactions.
When routinely sterilizing plastic materials like payment terminals, you also risk disinfectant damage.
As more customers use personal sanitizers to clean surfaces and electronic payment terminals, it can be difficult to monitor cleaning practices and chemicals.
The medical field has already adopted materials that can withstand vigorous disinfectant usage to protect expensive medical devices from being damaged.
For retailers, introducing disinfectant-resistant materials will become necessary to preserve payment terminals and scanners over time.
Have questions about starting a new technology project for your store?
With Worldlink’s national network of strategic partners, our team is prepared to complete complex technology deployments in any location. Our seasoned professionals have extensive experience with deploying technology and managing retail projects.
Learn how Worldlink can support your technology deployment project.
How to Continue Operating Successfully
Without People In Your Stores
Even after the pandemic has subsided, customers will carry new habits and preferences into the future.
Some shoppers who have experienced delivery, curbside pickup and ecommerce will likely adopt these habits permanently. Many brands will likely continue to limit store capacity or maintain social distancing measures.
Dark stores, BOPIS and curbside pickup can help retailers adapt to these new consumer preferences and trends.
Faster deliveries in densely populated areas
Reduces strain on main fulfilment hubs
More convenient shopping experience for consumers
A hybrid approach accommodates online and in-store customers
A dark store, or ghost store, is a brick-and-mortar storefront that has been converted into a mini local fulfillment center. Dark stores allow you to fulfill delivery and pickup orders while limiting face-to-face interaction with customers.
As more people purchase online and expect same-day delivery, relying on a handful of distribution centers around the country won’t be sustainable for many retailers.
Many large brands are already in the process of transitioning stores into regional fulfillment centers. Whole Foods recently converted a number of Los Angeles and New York locations into dark stores. And Bed Bath & Beyond announced that it would transition 25% of its stores into regional fulfilment centers to make faster deliveries during the pandemic.
Some stores are taking a hybrid approach, turning part of their store into a fulfillment center and keeping half of the store open for customers who wish to shop in-store.
Even after the pandemic has subsided, it’s likely that many dark stores will turn into permanent fixtures to keep up with new delivery demands. Adapting your store to process and automate deliveries will help you meet customer expectations and stay profitable in the long term.
Pro Tip: Simply expanding your existing pickup and delivery options isn’t enough. To be truly effective, you need to carefully think through your entire fulfillment process and automate wherever possible to avoid strain on employees and operations.
BOPIS stands for “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store.” It’s a retail model that allows brick-and-mortar stores to compete with ecommerce by unifying the convenience of online shopping with the cost savings of in-store shopping.
Studies show that consumers prefer BOPIS because they can avoid shipping fees, choose a flexible pick-up time and review their purchase at the store before leaving. According to Qudini, 62% of consumers are embracing BOPIS options to reduce exposure to the coronavirus.
Retailers like Walmart, Nike and Tesco are implementing BOPIS check-in systems that notify stores when customers arrive so they can get orders out faster.
QSR and fast casual restaurants are also leveraging curbside pickup to maintain business while minimizing in-store traffic. The number of orders placed online and picked up at the store surged by 208% in April 2020 compared to the same month last year.
With curbside pickup, customers can place an order online and select an appointment for a convenient pickup time.
BOPIS and curbside pickup bring up new considerations for retailers, such as how to handle returns and manage online and in-store inventory.
Before pursuing this new model, consider whether your existing technology supports BOPIS. For example, you will need an ecommerce platform to enable online ordering and a real-time inventory management system to accurately track pickup orders.
Future-Proof Your Business With Worldlink
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced stores to rethink how they interact with customers and conduct business. You need cost-effective, sustainable solutions that will keep your employees and customers healthy and safe.
Worldlink Integration is a national provider of technology deployment services with specific industry expertise in the retail, restaurant and grocery sectors. We have the people, technical partners and processes to bring you the best solutions in the industry, whether you’re looking for a straightforward tech implementation or a complete overhaul of your infrastructure.
We are anticipatory problem solvers for retailers and partners dedicated to the success and happiness of their customers, associates and the consumer experience.
Learn how Worldlink can support your next technology deployment project.