Your customers should always feel safe when they spend time in your retail establishment. Whether you work in the service industry or operate a retail location, safety for your customers and your workers should be a top priority.
However, understanding what you need to do to keep up with safety demands can be daunting—especially when business owners already have to do so much to maintain their business. Thankfully, once you develop safety systems and implement the right technology, some safety concerns will take care of themselves automatically.
It is certainly a mistake to ignore customer safety altogether. If a customer is harmed on your property, it can lead to legal liability and rightfully, earn your company a poor reputation in the community. Addressing some of the most common safety concerns will help ensure customer wellbeing at your brick-and-mortar business location.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
The air you breathe is one of the most overlooked safety hazards in a business. However, when air quality is poor, it can lead to a host of health issues for your customers. For example, dampness that leads to mold can cause allergic reactions for customers with allergies.
Musty or damp smells are also just generally not very appealing for visitors. If you work with chemicals in your business, ensuring proper airflow is even more important. Without sufficient airflow, customers may be overpowered by the chemical smells, resulting in coughs, headaches, lightheadedness, and more.
In many cases, if a customer has one bad experience with the environment in your store, they will not be back.
Remove Slip and Fall Hazards
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that flooring and flooring materials cause or contribute to over 2 million fall injuries every year. Based on this kind of statistic, it is clear that maintaining your flooring is one of the best ways to help customers stay safe in your location.
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive indicates that slips and trips make up 35% of the "major" injuries in the food and drink industry. Wet floors make up about 90% of slips, and trips are generally caused by obstructions on the floor.
Simply picking up debris and cleaning up spills right away can also significantly cut down on slip and fall accidents and increase customer safety overall. Of course, having a clean, clear business location also looks more presentable for clients visiting your location.
Monitor and Control Crowds
Having too many people in one location can also create customer safety issues. COVID-19 has made crowd control even more important. Nonetheless, limiting the number of people in your store at any given time can also have additional benefits. Customers are less likely to run into each other, knock over displays and products, and place debris on the floor. Having too many people inside a singular location is also a general fire safety hazard that you should consider as well.
People counter technology can be a great way to ensure that you do not have too many people in a given location at any time. This type of technology can help you decide whether to add people to your staff for busy times, open additional check-out lanes, and a lot more.
You can also utilize other features to cut down on the number of people in your store without decreasing sales. Curbside pickup can be a good option to achieve this goal.
Appointment scheduling and virtual queueing can cut down on physical wait times in stores as well.
Maintain Desirable, Stable Temperatures
In most cases, temperature control will not result in a safety hazard for customers. Instead, temperature control is often more focused on customers simply having a good experience in your location.
However, there are more severe situations where temperature can be a concern. If you have to maintain a certain temperature level to ensure that products do not spoil, for example, those should be kept in a different location from your store's main, customer-centered areas. Hot locations, such as for growing plants, should be sectioned off so that you can warn customers about the temperature change before they walk in.
Sudden temperature changes can not only be off-putting to customers, but they can also lead to more severe health issues, including allergy-like symptoms, respiratory infections, asthma attacks, muscular pains, and more.
Increase or Install Effective Lighting
Customers that can see where they are going are less likely to fall in your store. Having bright lights can help clients navigate your location easier and much more safely. Lighting is especially important in locations where you have stairs, even if there are just one or two steps up or down.
Your lights should also be set up so that they throw light evenly as much as possible. Uneven lighting can make the floor look distorted and alter depth perception. Even lighting will help clients avoid tripping because of the different variations or intensities of light.
Good lighting can also help you see customers better, which can deter actions related to theft or vandalism.
Sprinkler Systems and Fire Prevention
Although fires are a remote possibility for most businesses, they can be very serious when they occur. Fires in commercial properties cost owners an estimated $2.4 billion every year. Over half of larger commercial fires occurred in a building that did not have functioning smoke detectors.
Making sure that your smoke detectors are in good working order is a simple thing that you can do to maintain customer safety and help avoid fires that can cause significant property damage. If your business location is large, you may want to consider installing a sprinkler system or other fire-suppressions system to stop small fires before they spread. For many businesses, having a fire suppression system will decrease your property insurance premiums slightly, which is certainly an added benefit.
Fire concerns are especially prevalent in hotels and motels and restaurants. However, even office buildings have fire threats, most of which are caused by cooking and food preparation. In warehouses and production facilities, fires are often caused by electrical malfunctions and related issues.
Clean and Disinfect Your Business
COVID-19 has brought health and safety concerns regarding the spread of germs to the forefront of many business owners' minds. After taking a hard look at their current cleanliness practices, many business owners realize that there is a lot of room for improvement to curb the spread of COVID-19 and address many types of germs and bacteria.
Daily disinfectant practices are a good idea, but if you have specific types of businesses, certain cleaning may be required after each customer. Regulations and emergencies laws might also be in place in your area that currently requires disinfecting. Be sure to check local rules that affect your location and specific industry for more information.
Communicating with customers about what they can expect regarding COVID-19 protocols before they come to your location can also be very helpful.
Create a Workplace Safety Culture
One of the best ways to help increase customer safety is to train and empower your workforce to take action when they see safety concerns. Simple things like putting out wet floor signs and cleaning up spills or debris right away can go a long way to decrease injuries at your location.
Periodic safety training to stress your priorities with your team members can also be very helpful. Show management how to properly utilize technology to increase safety and listen to feedback when your team comes to you with concerns. Employees also respond well to rewards that encourage safe behaviors.
Proper Warnings and Signage
When you think something might be a safety hazard, it is a good idea to warn customers about it if you cannot fully address it. Even something as simple as a couple of steps down into another part of your store, for example, could use a warning sign to let customers know about the flooring change in your store.
Signs that include reminders about COVID-19 safety measures are often helpful as well, especially if you have specific restrictions that apply to your area or industry.
Keep Customers Safe with the Right Technology
Ombori provides an array of solutions to make your business run smoother—including methods that can be used to increase customer safety. Chat with the team at Ombori about your specific concern area or allow our experts to suggest options to use technology to make your company a safer place. Learn more by contacting our team or booking a demo to see our solutions in action.
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.