The supermarket industry is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shopping carts also happen to be the one piece of equipment you can count on customers touching and using in your store. Bemis is sharing everything we've learned about how to best manage carts during this crisis and some tips on how Bemis carts can help make your operations run more smoothly during this challenging time.
Industry Best Practices For Sanitation
The Food Industry Association (FMI) has a resource page, listing some helpful procedures and practices that grocers can implement. There is a specific document for frequently touched surfaces that we've downloaded and is available at the link below.
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Cart Handle Cleaning
Many stores are assigning employees to clean and sanitize carts at regular intervals. Some are even stationing employees in their vestibule areas to clean carts as they are returned. These are all great practices but are time consuming and require labor that many stores are short on.
Bemis handles were designed as one smooth piece with the intent of making them easier to clean. We decided to do an informal "handle clean test" to see if it really was faster and easier to clean a Bemis handle versus a traditional cart. It was much easier to completely clean the Bemis handle.
We think this was an unintentional COVID solution...but it works. You can easily pop the handle logos off traditional carts to have one smooth piece to clean. Most will have small indents and 3 holes that you see in the picture but it is still much easier to clean.
We're not big fans of logos on handles...and even before COVID-19, customers weren't fans of them either. In our focus group research, participants frequently mentioned how difficult the handle logos were to clean.
Make Contact-less Payment, Friction-less
Getting in and out of a store is paramount during COVID-19. Many stores have seen a massive increase in use of "scan and go" or "shop and scan" technologies that allow customers to scan items with their phones as they shop.
It's important to make this process easy for customers: Make sure your carts have a mobile phone prop. This is different from a typical coupon tray - propping the phone in scanning position is crucial so customers don't have to touch it as often. Bemis carts have this feature built-in.
Since reusable bags aren't encouraged in stores right now - you should also make your traditional store-provided bags available for customers to grab at the entrance.
This blog post goes into more detail about how Bemis's phone prop and bag hooks help with scan and go applications.
The Importance of Cart Retrieval
COVID-19 has put a premium on quick cart retrieval from your lots. Not only do you need this for demand spikes in your store but also to allow you to clean carts for customers.
Bemis carts were designed to make retrieval less labor intensive and more efficient: The "rear wheel lift" on Bemis carts will prevent the fixed rear wheels from dragging. As a result, a chain of nested carts is much easier to push and maneuver. This is a real benefit if you are short on labor and need to quickly retrieve carts.
Foot Traffic Monitoring
We're big fans of this tool from Placer.ai that monitors foot traffic for a variety of different regional and national retatilers. They've made some of their data available to view during the COVID-19 pandemic and it's a great way to see how your brand's foot traffic compares to others.
Bemis carts can now incorporate wireless location tracking technology. This can be used to monitor fleet usage and occupancy in your stores. Learn more about this technology at our cart tracking page.
Carts as a Social Distancing Tool
The standard size shopping cart is between 3 and 4 feet long. Some stores have realized that carts can be a natural "buffer" between shoppers and can aid in social distancing. To take advantage of this, they are requiring that all guests use a cart.
In addition to helping shoppers keep their distance from one another, this also helps track occupancy: If you have 300 carts in your store and 50 are in your vestibule, you know you are close to your shopping/occupancy capacity.
Putting this type of policy into place does put even more of a premium on cart retrieval and cleaning. It is very important that you have a good process in place for both if you are going to require all guests take a cart when they enter.
Social Distancing Signage...On Your Carts
You can't over-communicate the need to avoid congestion in your store. Many grocers are actually using carts as a unit of measurement in their signage (stay 2 carts away). Some stores are even requiring cart use by customers to aid in social distancing and help keep track of occupancy.
We realized that Bemis carts could help promote this message with our side panel space. The sample in the picture can be universally applied to any Bemis cart size.
If you want to design your own social distancing graphic for your Bemis carts - just download the template below. You can also see what other retailers have done with their side panel branding space here.