It’s election day in the US. Depending on where your stores are located, they might be boarded up again. We’re all crossing our fingers, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that retailers should be prepared in case demonstrations or celebrations take a violent turn. “Out of an abundance of caution” seems to be the catchphrase these days.
In May, the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer sparked largely peaceful protests, but retailers still suffered losses due to the looting and vandalism that happened in many cities across the United States. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that these losses amount to as much as $1B. All this, on the heels of Covid, in an industry that was just starting to reopen its doors (albeit with strict health and safety regulations in place.) It’s a lot to process.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the National Retail Federation hosted a video conference with representatives from 60 retail brands. The session helped train store employees on how to “de-escalate tensions among customers, including those related to the election,” and predicted which locations around the country were most likely to experience volatility after the polls close.
At Zipline, we think about the role of retail associates a lot. Most of us worked in retail at some point in our careers. We know that retail brands, and store teams in particular, are under incredible pressure. Smaller teams are now taking on far more responsibility than ever before, including the health and safety of colleagues and customers. The struggle makes us even more conscious about what we can do to improve the lives of retail workers, which also happens to be our mission.
When we look at this week’s events and speak with our customers, we are proud of the role we play in helping the industry navigate these hurdles. Here are three key ways we’re helping our customers as they prepare for the next few days ahead.
Make it Easy to Communicate Quickly
Today, things change on a dime - and we’re not just talking about holiday promotions anymore. Sure, it’s important to change those endcap signs and set your POGs on time, but when stores need to close due to civil unrest, every moment counts. Zipline makes it incredibly easy to notify just the stores that are impacted. Targeting information to the field alleviates misinformation, mitigates spin, and ensures that your stores never have to waste valuable time hunting down the right information.
Provide a Single Source of Truth
Many retailers are updating their safety training and policies to include more information about how to de-escalate customer situations and keep their teams safe. But what good are new trainings if nobody knows where they’re stored? At Zipline, we believe this information needs to live in one place so teams always know where to go for the latest and greatest. Equally important, it needs to be searchable - so teams can find it the first time, even if they can’t necessarily remember the right title, word-for-word. Zipline’s resource library makes it easy to find information AND ensures that it’s relevant, because everything is targeted by location and role.
Make Expectations Clear
Between Covid-19 and social unrest, stores today need to stay agile. To move quickly, it’s critical that everyone knows what’s expected of them. When there’s confusion about “who owns what,” critical tasks slip through the cracks and store execution suffers. That’s why, in Zipline, Store managers can easily assign tasks and track store activities in the palm of their hand. Zipline works on any mobile device (as well as 10-year-old back office PCs.)
Speaking of the Election..
On a more personal note, many Zipliners have taken the day off today to volunteer in their communities. Some employees are providing rides to polling stations. Others are working in the polling stations and a few are knocking on doors encouraging people to get out and vote. I’m proud of how we have come together to support our user community and our wider communities during this very important election.
As you watch the outcome of the election and its effect on your community, please let us know if we can help. If you need a better way to communicate changes to the fleet and keep everyone aligned, let’s chat.