The vending industry is one of the technological advances in the food sector. From hot coffee in the middle of the night to ice-cold sodas, the vending industry has revolutionized the delivery of food, especially in market or office places. Micromarkets are arguably the latest addition to the vending industry. Despite their premier eight years ago, health departments in several states across the country are yet to fully understand what micromarkets entail and how they ensure food integrity without physically being present. For this reason, the majority of states are yet to have written legislation regarding the micromarkets.
The onset of coronavirus has challenged the usual way businesses operated, including the micromarkets. One of the significant changes that have shaken the system is the stay at home orders and social distancing, with only those from essential services being allowed to leave their premises. As a result, the micromarkets now have stiff competition with online shops that sell and make food deliveries to their customers. However, the slow opening of the country’s economy has seen the country slowly going adjusting to the pandemic, finding new ways to live with the virus as opposed to waiting until it has been eradicated. Businesses such as those in micromarkets, therefore, need to resort to new measures to keep their customers safe and aware of the importance of hygiene.
The following are some of the ways that operators with micromarkets can be proactive while fighting COVID-19 and making their markets safe for operations.
- Maximize on Use of Cashless Payments
One of the ways in which the virus spreads is through direct contact with objects like money. Alternative forms of payment like money transfer or use of credit/debit cards lower the chances of spreading and contracting the virus. Additionally, it will significantly reduce the time needed to purchase food, allowing customers to return to their houses where their safety is assured.
- Remind Employees and Customers of Necessary Precautions
Regular staff meetings should be held to remind employees to ensure social distancing at all times and only to limit contact whenever necessary. For customers, they must be directed to touch only the products that they wish to buy. Using signage within the microfinance will encourage customers to maintain the minimum 6 feet distance from each other. The signage will also remind customers to only touch items they will purchase—the signs used need to be very clear and easy to read.
- Maintain and Promote Regular Sanitation of the People and the Premises
Hygiene is a crucial measure while fighting coronavirus. Policies by the government instruct business owners to have sanitizing stations within the micromarkets. Before any customer gets into the shop, he/she is required to sanitize their hands, either using hand sanitizers or with soap and water. Also, front line employees of the micromarket should be provided with protective equipment such as gloves and face masks.
- Keep Customer Communication Channels Open
During a crisis like the pandemic, communication is one of the ways of keeping individuals calm and up to date with useful information. Naturally, customers will have questions about their safety while at the micromarket store. Alternatively, some customers may have valuable suggestions that can be integrated into the already present safety precautions.
- Plan For a Disaster
Despite taking the necessary precautions, planning is one of the ways of ensuring that the company can handle all possible outcomes during the pandemic and future disasters. Preparing entails necessary procedures like working from home, handling medical-related cases when they arise, insurance covers for the business and the employees, and the supply chain alternatives for when customers cannot visit the store. All these and many more plans should be documented, covering all possible worst-case scenarios. The essence is to equip the business to survive through unpredicted disasters, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Documenting these procedures will also act as reference points for when the disaster happens. Therefore, if there is a second wave of coronavirus pandemic, the business can refer to pre-written procedures, a key element in crisis management.