With a team of almost 200,000 and over 3,000 stores across almost every community in Australia, we quickly recognised the important role we needed to play as the COVID-19 pandemic increased.
Guided by health advice and looking for best practice initiatives in nations going through similar circumstances, we adopted proven safety measures and education, to help our teams play their part in supporting health and safety in their communities.
Our efforts were focussed on our 5 pillars: PPE, Health, Hygiene, Cleaning and Social Distancing.
Clear team and customer messaging
We have created easy-to-read floor decals to support and reinforce physical distancing to our team and customers across our stores, including fresh food departments, and when queuing at the checkouts.
For those that must work on site, we rotate our teams regularly to reduce the incidence of close contact transmission.
Team members on checkout registers are, where possible, given alternating checkouts so they are not working back-to-back for long periods of time.
Where required we temporarily asked customers to pack their own bags to reduce multiple contact points between team and customers, reducing the risk of infection in our stores.
Team and cleaners Hi-Viz vests
We have supplied optional Hi-Viz vests to our team and cleaners to help customers identify the physical distancing and hygiene measures being undertaken in stores.
We have reset our back-of-house areas (offices, team rooms, team amenities), removing computers and furniture where necessary, following any density guidelines provided by the Government.
A more open shopping experience
In order to create more space in store to support physical distancing, we have removed some merchandising displays.
State or Territory specific requirements
We continue to monitor State and Territory requirements, and implement where applicable – for example the introduction of COVID Marshals in South Australian and Northern Territory operations who will also be visible across stores in Hi-Viz vests.
Contactless supplier delivery
We have changed how we receive orders from our Distribution Centres and direct suppliers, including drop boxes that remove the need for physical contact.
We have used existing digital signage to reiterate physical distancing and COVIDSafe messaging, and provided A0 sized posters to stores that don’t have this option.
Adjusted trading hours
Where required to respond to peak purchasing periods we adjusted store hours to facilitate:
• Out-of-hours store replenishment.
• Priority periods for online picking.
• Designated shopping hours for vulnerable members of our communities, frontline workers, first responders, and team.
Throughout COVID-19 we have stated that we prefer contactless/electronic payment options at our registers, with positive responses from our team and customers.
We also scaled-up our ‘Scan & Go’ app available in select stores, removing the need for customers to go through checkout registers.
Where required in regions identified with the potential for community transmission, we ceased our crate to bench ‘to kitchen’ deliveries, and moved to contactless delivery to front door for online customers.
In our Metro branded stores that have a smaller store size and aisle widths of less than 1.5m we introduced single flow directional shopping when required.
Limiting customers in-store
To maintain physical distancing, we have limited the number of people in-store at any given time.
An app developed in-house helped our team count customers in and out and provided a central view of customer numbers.
We are rolling out 3D Sensor technology in certain stores to enable automatic people counting to support maintaining accurate social distancing measures.
In Big W stores with photo kiosks, we limited the amount of kiosks in use based on the 1.5m rule, with messaging to customers.
Kiosks, benches and chairs were cleaned with disinfectant at regular intervals throughout the day. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser were available to customers at each open kiosk.
Team members were encouraged to social distance and offer verbal assistance only, rather than touch the kiosk or customers’ devices.
Fitting rooms in Big W
Every second fitting room was closed during Stage 3 and 4 restrictions, and seats were removed in this area.
Customers were encouraged to try clothing on at home knowing we have 90-day change-of-mind returns.
Fitting room team members were encouraged to rotate to other areas of the store over the course of their shift to minimise the risk of close contact transmission.
Customers entering fitting rooms were encouraged to use hand sanitiser provided and self-return clothes to the store floor after fitting.
Physical distancing during peak shopping periods
In the Zone
A supermarket initiative during peak periods, that ensures our team have what they need to bring a little good, and demonstrate their care and passion towards our customer.
Over Christmas, we made the decision to invest into our Front End staffing roster so that we have a ‘Zone Leader’ to support customers move through the checkout as quickly as possible and adhere to social distancing.
A Zone Leader;
• Direct customer to the right open register for their shop.
• Call team members to support at Front End.
• Help customers find products.
• Make every customer’s shopping experience special!
Over Easter time we focused on our high trading holiday stores and how we could support these stores with additional queuing equipment and team support for peak periods.
To reduce congestion in supermarket stockrooms, maintain on-time delivery
for online, improve supply chain truck turnaround and continue to keep our team safe, we introduced a Stockroom Marshal for peak periods.
Over Christmas, 452 stores had a Stockroom Marshal for the 11 days leading up to Christmas.
The 5 pillars of our COVIDSafe response