When the COVID-19 pandemic began, grocery retail companies started worrying about keeping brick-and-mortar stores open, employees and customers safe, and their communities fed. Many companies initially acted with handheld tally counters or mobile applications to limit store occupancy. This approach wasn’t feasible for a grocery retailer with 2,700+ locations.
Kroger wanted a safer and cost-effective solution to the problem. To achieve this goal, they recruited the help of Mission Data and a small team of Kroger employees to deliver viable alternatives.
The solution would need to work when connectivity to a central server was unavailable, minimize the need for additional store labor and not require a rollout of new equipment. Additionally, reporting would be required at the store and corporate levels to satisfy health inspection and compliance needs.
We leveraged Kroger’s existing QueVision system to count customers entering the store. QueVision was already available in most stores and forecasts checkout wait times and needed checkout lanes. Building on this existing data source and equipment, we developed an in-store web application that calculated a store’s estimated occupancy. This approach allowed each store to operate without connectivity concerns, and the system sent data to Kroger’s corporate servers daily.
As ordinances vary locally, the solution also measured occupancy against state or municipality occupancy guidelines considering the store’s square footage and average shop time. The information displayed on in-store monitors allowed associates to ensure occupancy was within safety limits.
Reports produced by the solution provided store and corporate management historical analyses to support operating procedure updates and allowed for compliance reporting.
We deployed the project across all stores in early April of 2020, culminating in Kroger’s nationwide communication notifying millions of customers. This project helped Kroger keep all stores open safely – with minimal cost and labor impact – and kept local health inspectors happy while addressing occupancy compliance concerns.
Visit our Kroger Client page to learn more about the solutions we’ve worked on together, or if you found this topic interesting and have a project in mind, let’s talk: https://www.missiondata.com/contact/.
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