A Grocer’s Mobility Guide in the Age of Social Distancing - Stratix

A Grocer’s Mobility Guide in the Age of Social Distancing

Written by Dipesh Hinduja

2 Min Read


Over the past 20 years or so, the grocery store experience has evolved dramatically for both the customer and employee. Digital technology and mobility has impacted everything from stocking and inventory to shopping and checking out, and even to marketing and customer loyalty. As with any transformation, different grocers progressed at their own pace. Some on the leading edge, with others dragging their heels. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced a new standard overnight. With the sudden expansion of Buy Online, Pick-up in Store (BOPIS), grocers without robust mobility programs in place were forced to play catch-up.  As the industry faces the uncertainty of the new normal, one thing is certain: a new era of grocery mobility has begun and is here to stay.

Grocers are now having to adjust to social distancing guidelines and the need to keep their customers and workforce safe while their in-store associates accomplish critical tasks. While the need for new team training and communication for tasks such as contactless checkouts, disinfection, and social distancing are required, there’s no time to accommodate a traditional learning curve. Fortunately, innovative technology-based solutions are providing grocers with options to make rapid, effective pivots in response to these challenges.

Curbside Pickup

BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up in Store) has been a growing trend in grocery for a few years now. While it was a measure of convenience, the ultimate goal was to ensure customers to pick up their order in the store. It acclimated them to the habit of visiting the store and exposed them to your brand. The onset of the pandemic, however, shifted customers towards curbside pickup. This means that secure Wi-Fi bandwidth needs to be extended to outside the store, as do mobility solutions for those trained to use them.

Ruggedized mobility solution providers such as Honeywell are well ahead of the curve, offering mobile computers, mobile printers, and software to allow grocers the freedom they need to go from freezers to store aisles to curbside. An associate is able to quickly locate and pick the order utilizing ruggedized mobile devices such as their CT40 Mobile Computer, which is made to withstand extreme temperatures and the occasional drop. This helps boost productivity and deliver orders on time, while maintaining stock for in-store shoppers. Of course, simply introducing this system is not enough – you need to also support it and empower employees to use the technology to deliver a seamless customer experience. Ideally, you’ll source a dedicated and responsive 24x7x365 support help desk your associates to keep their devices up and running. That support must be paired with another critical component of any new mobility solution – Training.

An Ounce of Training

New procedures. New duties. New employees. They all require rapid training and consistent communication. It’s even true with long-time associates, as not every employee is trained on modern mobile devices, apps and services. That’s why it’s important to craft mobile support programs centered around user experiences that are familiar, intuitive, and easy to use right out of the box. If you lack the internal IT resources to handle procurement, staging, kitting, and more at scale, consider a proven mobility partner to engage with to bolster your capabilities. They can create an end-to-end solution that increases employee satisfaction with your mobile technology, boosts efficiency and reduces staff turnover.

Maintaining Your Brand

Another challenge that many grocers are facing in this age of social distancing is how to stand apart from the competition. Even if customers are picking up their groceries at the curb and your associates wear masks and observe social distancing, how can a customer tell one grocery store from another? Well, the answer is the same as it’s always been: service. It’s just taking on a different form, and mobility solutions free your team to be helpful and provide a best-in-class experience – even at a distance.

Invest in high-end scanners (e.g. the Xenon Extreme Performance 1952g) that can scan loyalty cards, digital coupons, smartphones, and ID cards at a distance even on damaged and poor-quality barcodes. The shopper can simply hold out their personal item, and the cashier can use the barcode scanner to read the presented information, without touching the personal item. Without it, the cashier would be forced to take the loyalty card and either hand-key, conduct an additional scan or drop the program rewards altogether. Maintaining programs such as loyalty cards, online coupons and more in a contactless fashion allows the store to maintain a connection with the shopper without physical contact.

Disinfecting Mobility

There has been much debate around the country and over dinner tables as to which of the new pandemic rules are effective, warranted, and welcomed – and which are not. The idea of rigorously cleaning and disinfecting public areas, however, seems to have met with universal acceptance and does not appear to be going away any time soon. The Mobile Device Cleaning Guide will help to ensure you’re disinfecting your scanners, printers, and mobile computers properly.

Engage Expertise

With so much happening so quickly, it’s easy to get lost, get panicked, and get overwhelmed. Managed mobility providers can help you see the big picture and empower you to build and implement a mobility strategy that meets your customers’ needs. They should have an understanding of current trends, as well as the foresight to help futureproof your mobile technology programs and help you navigate future disruption events. Changing times don’t always mean you have to change your technology. Sometimes it’s just a matter of utilizing features you didn’t know you had, and little adjustments can go a long way.

For more information on what’s next for mobile for Grocer’s, watch “The Mobile Supply Chain: The Successful Grocer’s Secret Weapon” webinar held by Progressive Grocer.

The Mobile Supply Chain: The Successful Grocer’s Secret Weapon

In this webinar, Progressive Grocer and a panel of industry thought leaders explore what's next for mobile and how industry leaders in Grocery are unlocking new use cases.

Watch Webinar