Health and Safety Compliance in Retail

Coworkers sitting together and smiling outside.

Health and Safety Compliance in Retail

By Retail Zipline, based on data collected by NAPCO as part of its research study conducted in July and August, 2020

Coworkers sitting together and smiling outside.

The data reveals that the vast majority of retailers are not equipped to handle the health and safety requirements around the pandemic. But there are clear indicators that the situation can be improved. How? By focusing on store communication.


When NAPCO, Total Retail’s parent company, came to us in July and asked us if we would be interested in sponsoring a research study to understand how omni-channel retailers are performing amid Covid-19 health and safety regulations, we jumped at the chance. At Zipline, we view health and safety compliance as just another store execution task, albeit one with much more serious consequence. We were excited to see how our customers performed and what we could learn from the data.

We learned a lot.

  • The pandemic is causing retailers to have to do more with fewer resources. As a result, average performance is low.

  • Retailers that use software solutions to manage store communications and task management outperform those that don’t.

  • Retailers are getting sidelined by safety and, as a result, falling down in other areas.

  • There is a difference in performance between essential and non-essential businesses.

Read on to see further findings about compliance performance in retail, best and worst performing segments and hurdles that retailers face around health and safety.


NAPCO’s assessment includes both publicly available information about each retailer’s COVID-19 response measures as well as scoring of the in-store customer experience of their COVID-19 measures.

  • Retailers were evaluated in-store over a three-week period from July 2020 through August 2020.

  • All steps were taken to ensure a typical shopping experience, from approaching a store entrance and walking up and down aisles, to observing the store checkout area and then exiting.

  • NAPCO analysts scored each retailer on the safety measures that they have put into place as well as how effective they were at enforcing those protocols, all with the goal of minimizing the shopper’s COVID-19 risk.

  • Merchants were evaluated against 29 unique criteria, covering the specific and most common measures recommended by the CDC and other authorities to combat the spread of COVID-19.

NAPCO provided Retail Zipline with each retailer’s detailed scorecard and we analyzed the data to uncover insights.

Key Findings

  • Scores Appear Low

    On a scale of 100, the average retailer in NAPCO’s study scored a 48.61% with the mean score at 45. While these scores appear shockingly low, it’s a great reminder that stores are being asked to do a lot more than ever before and are, in most cases, working with fewer resources.

    Chart 1


    Retailers have a way to go before their stores are fully compliant. But with some insight into where execution is lacking, we expect to see improvement.

  • Tools Help

    Retailers that use communication and task management software outperform their peers in all the execution categories including signage, safety messaging and traffic.

    We looked at how our customers performed against non-Zipline customers and our competitors’ customers. We found that tools users outperform non-tools users and Zipline customers outperform both.

    Friendliness Signage Traffic


    Retailers that put software solutions in place to communicate better and manage store execution are better equipped to handle the additional work resulting from the pandemic. But all tools are not created equal.

  • Safety Can Sidetrack Retailers

    Retailers are primarily focused on safety today but with so much focus on one category, other areas of compliance suffer. When we isolate retailers that scored higher than 60% in safety, we find that they don’t do as well across the other categories because they’re singularly focused.



    Zipline customers, who scored 63% in safety, maintain high scores across categories, which shows that with the right task management solution, you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

  • Non-Essential Businesses Outperform Essential Businesses

    Non-essential businesses appear to perform better, on average, than their essential counterparts. Essential businesses scored, on average, 40% and non-essential businesses scored, on average, 48%.

    Graph Essential


    When the pandemic shut down non-essential businesses, many used that time to prepare for changes to stores. We surmise that essential businesses were too busy keeping up with customer demand to focus the appropriate amount of effort on health and safety.

    Customer Spotlight

    Zipline customer, Sephora, which came in 4th in NAPCO’s study, launched the Sephora @ Home campaign for field employees. The campaign capitalized on the time that employees were home due to the shutdown to get them trained and educated and ready for the changes that were to come.

  • Performance varies by retail segment

    Just as essential and non-essential businesses had a big difference in performance, so too did retail segments. We grouped the companies in the study by NAICS code and found that the top performers were beauty, apparel and department stores. The bottom performers were health and specialty auto stores.


The Business Case for Compliance

Chief Executive recently reported that more than 460 employment, labor and consumer lawsuits involving coronavirus safety claims were filed by the end of July. Regardless of how mindful you are about safety, any company that exposes its people to others is at risk of being sued. Retailers with store associates are most exposed since it's a challenge to communicate and control desk-less workers.

To prepare for the wave of lawsuits on the horizon, Chief Executive provided CEOs (and their boards) with some simple tips to get ahead of the problem. When combined with an automated communication, task management and compliance solution like Retail Zipline, these strategies could mean tens of millions of dollars in cost savings.

Chief Executive advises

Maintain detailed written policies and procedures regarding worker safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they will help companies fare far better than those that don’t have them. Explaining what steps should be taken if an outbreak occurs will also show the company has acted in “good faith” with the employees’ best interest in mind.

Zipline's Resource Library functions as your one source of truth

  • The resource library in Retail Zipline is purpose made for ensuring that store associates have instant access to the latest policies and procedures, at all times, without having to sift through reams of information they don’t need.

  • Zipline’s resource library is search-primary, so teams don’t need to memorize a complicated hierarchy to find what they’re looking for. Rather, they can pull up information in seconds.

  • We know your stores are geographically diverse, so library contents are targeted by location and role – there’s no risk of employees looking at (and executing) the wrong direction.

  • In Zipline, there is just one source of truth; As changes are made to policies and procedures, you can immediately let the field know that documents have been updated.

  • When you need to confirm that teams have read and understood new policies or directions, you can require that employees sign off using the Surveys solution. With Surveys, you can get to a 100% response rate faster than ever before: DMs can see which of their stores hasn’t completed a live survey in real time, so they can remind them while it's still in progress. And, HQ teams can access results directly so there’s no bottleneck.

Celebrating health

Chief Executive advises

Involve frontline workers in the development of the health and safety protocols to keep workers safe. Survey workers to find out areas that they feel are unsafe and ask them for suggestions on what can be done to ease their fears. Document these interactions—it is much harder to argue that the company has been negligent when the workers have participated in developing the safety protocols. It’ll also help your managers see the gaps and, perhaps, help you avoid being sued in the first place.

Retail Zipline provides effective feedback loops

  • Retail Zipline provides effective feedback loops that improve execution in stores, drive employee engagement, give a line of sight throughout the organization and protect companies by ensuring that employees are part of safety discussions and have the opportunity to provide input.

  • Surveys in Zipline are a lightweight tool that makes it easy to gather information from store teams. With Surveys, you can easily poll the field in a targeted and personalized way, which helps to improve the number and accuracy of responses.

  • HQ partners and Upper Field teams have immediate access to the answers they need with the ability to view and download survey results. This promotes alignment, shared knowledge, a faster feedback loop and the ability to show employee involvement in safety protocols.

  • For more in-the moment conversations, Zipline’s Groups is a chat module that’s built for dialogue, discussion, and debate - but is still trackable down to the individual comment.

  • Teams in the field can connect in real-time with HQ business partners to share best practices, ask questions, and raise concerns. Every interaction is searchable, so teams can quickly hop into pertinent discussions, and every message is securely stored for records retention purposes.

Ask The Experts

Learn how leading retailers are tackling health
and safety compliance


jessica ringena

Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer - Hy-Vee

Hy-Vee, Inc. deployed Retail Zipline’s communication platform across its entire company in an effort to directly communicate with its more than 85,000 employees amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The platform will also be used beyond this current crisis and continue as the primary communication method to ensure all stores are delivering to brand standards.

“All of our employees play a crucial role in how we are responding to COVID-19, which is why it’s imperative we invest in them and provide them with the necessary resources to do their jobs in the best way possible,” said Jessica Ringena, Hy-Vee’s senior vice president, finance and business strategy. “Retail Zipline allows our corporate team to communicate with every single employee to make sure everyone receives the same message and executes new protocols or receives the latest company news in a timely fashion.”


Corey Bouyea

Director, Store Operations  L.L.Bean

Freeport, Maine-based L.L.Bean is utilizing compliance features of the Retail Zipline communication platform in all 54 stores across 18 U.S. states.

“The health and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority,” said Corey Bouyea, senior manager of store operations at L.L. Bean. “Retail Zipline has given us a seamless way to communicate new processes, policies and protocols to our stores as they reopen. In addition, we’ve been able to launch a robust store reboot certification process that leverages Zipline’s surveys functionality, allowing us to track compliance, capture photos and ‘certify’ our stores for reopening from our home office in Maine. As a result, our ability to communicate, educate our teams and track what’s actually been done in stores has improved tenfold – ensuring record high compliance.”

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