Digital innovations for a safe and convenient shopping environment

October 28, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: COVID-19, Digital and Marketing

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers across the SPAR network have reacted quickly to ensure stores remain safe spaces for shoppers and store team members. Although instore digital technologies have been on the rise for several years, they are playing an increasingly important role in maintaining a safe and comfortable shopping environment in line with social distancing guidelines.

Mobile payment and self-checkout systems
Self-checkout machines are used in stores across the SPAR network, helping customers save time and avoid face-to-face interactions. They also ease the workload of team members during rush hours, allowing them to turn their attention to other areas of the store.

Following on from self-checkout machines, a growing number of SPAR retailers are exploring options to allow customers to scan and pay for their groceries using handheld scanners or mobile phones. These types of technologies help facilitate shopping ease without necessitating significant investments into new equipment.

Tracking footfall 
Before even leaving the house, mobile apps can also help customers plan their shopping trip in accordance with social distancing rules. For example, SPAR Spain partner Líder Aliment in April launched an app that monitors how busy its SPAR Supermarkets are.

Customers can choose their nearest store and obtain real-time data on customer occupancy. In one glance, users can see which SPAR store has the lowest number of customers and decide when to shop according to footfall, increasing the safety of both shoppers and team members.

Infrared cameras
SPAR retailers in countries including Qatar, Oman, and China have introduced handheld or stationary thermographic cameras at the entrance of stores that perform body temperature checks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Visitors at SPAR Hypermarkets in Qatar, for example, are requested to face the camera near the information desk to have their temperature automatically screened as they enter the store. If elevated body temperature is detected, the device emits a sound, and the customer is refused entry.

Click & Collect
E-grocery platforms have been on the rise throughout the SPAR network for several years, with full-service e-grocery operations in 12 countries before the COVID-19 outbreak. During the first half of 2020, this number has grown to 25 SPAR countries, offering more communities easy access to groceries.

As part of SPAR’s e-commerce strategy, Click & Collect services give customers an option to collect the order they have in their virtual cart or have it delivered to a location of their choosing. After selecting to collect instore, customers are informed through mobile messaging or e-mail of a time slot during which they can pick up their purchase.

Social distancing measures are likely to continue in varying degrees for the foreseeable future. As such, digital solutions will gain a solid position in the global retail landscape.

To read this article in full, first published in our quarterly magazine Contact International, click here.