The largest US grocer reveals how to reopen business during the pandemic — here are the biggest takeaways from its 17-page guide

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Kroger is sharing guidance on operations during a pandemic.

Kroger


  • Kroger has published a 17-page guide to operating a business amid the ongoing pandemic. 
  • The guide provides tips for cleaning practices, labor allocation, and messaging to customers and employees. 
  • Many businesses could find this useful as they navigate reopening in states that have loosened restrictions on stay-at-home orders.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kroger has published a 17-page guide for other businesses that are trying to navigate reopening, as states begin loosening restrictions on nonessential businesses.

The guide shares the company’s biggest takeaways after weeks of operating in the midst of the pandemic. 

It includes tips on best safety and cleaning practices, recommendations for enforcing social distancing rules, and advice about communicating with employees. Kroger is also giving businesses access to dozens of signs that they can print out and use in their own locations. 

“As an essential business, we’ve learned how to operate safe and open environments in retail stores, food production facilities, and distribution centers,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement included in the document. “We learned a lot from others as well — many companies and government officials have partnered with us to share valuable insights.

“We want to share what we’ve learned and best practices with other businesses, so they can take steps now to develop protocols and procedures to reopen safely and continue to flatten the curve,” the statement continued. 

Kroger is the largest traditional grocer in the US, with nearly 2,800 stores.

Here are some of the takeaways from the company’s “blueprint for business.” Read the full guide here.

  • Air audio recordings over store speakers to remind shoppers of physical distancing rules and hygiene guidance. Kroger is airing these messages every 15 minutes. 
  • Encourage physical distancing with widespread signage and sneeze guards at registers.
  • Prepare employees for confrontations with “de-escalation” tips. “In many ways, the pandemic has brought out the best in people, but the stress and fear can lead some to be confrontational,” the guide says.
  • Consider suspending return policies. Kroger has temporarily stopped accepting returns. 
  • Offer free or reduced fees on pickup or delivery services to encourage customers to make purchases with limited contact. Make some locations pickup or delivery only.
  • Add extra staff to cover additional breaks for employees to wash their hands and sanitize equipment.
  • Stop offering food samples and close in-store bars, sitting areas, fitting rooms, self-serve bars, and bulk-bin options.   
  • Consider cutting store hours. “Long hours serving customers along with heightened cleaning guidelines can lead to exhausted teams,” the guide says. “Consider adjusting your operating hours, balancing the needs of your employees and your customers.”
  • Increase cleaning frequency throughout the store and bathrooms and consider hiring a third-party cleaning company.
  • “Assign [a] dedicated employee to wipe down carts with sanitizer and paper towels in the lobby during store hours,” the guide says.
  • Encourage employees to wear personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, and make sure they know how to properly use and dispose of these items.
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home and consider revising paid time off options. “While Kroger was quick to offer Emergency Leave Guidelines to affected employees at the start of the pandemic, we learned early on that extending the same coverage to employees experiencing symptoms was necessary to ensure they felt supported in prioritizing their health and updated our policy as such,” the guide says. 
  • Prevent non-employee truck drivers from entering stores, warehouses, and manufacturing plants.   
  • Spread out deliveries to reduce potential crowding.
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