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 social 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 social 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 the 1 person per 4sqm rule, as recommended by the Government.
A more open shopping experience
In order to create more space in store to support social 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 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 social 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 47 Metro branded stores that have a smaller store size and aisle widths of less than 1.5m we introduced single flow directional shopping.
Limiting customers in-store
During panic-buying periods and peak holiday trade, we limited the amount of customers in-store at any given time. An app developed in-house helped our team count customers in and out and provide a central view of customer numbers at any given time.
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 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.