Artificial intelligence technologies have ensured the fast and effective introduction of COVID-19 safety measures in Maxima stores for the benefit of customer and employee safety—the unique artificial intelligence solutions, originally introduced to boost customer flows and profits, have been reversed to aid crowd control and enable social distancing during the state of emergency.
This approach to using the technology has allowed the company, in collaboration with Latvian authorities and experts, to create evidence-based preventative measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 to reinforce customer and employee safety.
“It quite and excitement for our team in Latvia to be the first grocery retailer worldwide to embrace artificial intelligence in our larger stores to boost customer flows through better processes in shelf replenishment and faster check-out. Yet again, we were the first to re-purpose the system, to help us minimise customer flows, down 30% on average, to take better care of customer and employee safety during this state of emergency. This solution, coupled with a robust emergency response plan and constant monitoring of safety measures from stores worldwide since January 2020, helped us effectively plan and prepare safety measures well ahead of the state of emergency being declared in the region. We are pleased we could share our resources and knowledge with authorities on the best available health and safety measures, and take part in developing guidelines for public safety in retail chains. We see that this helped to provide significantly more effective restrictions for Latvian retailers compared with the measures implemented in our neighbouring regions, in addition to achieving healthier results to customers and the business,” explains Jānis Vanags, Maxima Latvija CCO.
Bearing in mind the advantages of artificial intelligence, Maxima Latvija is gradually introducing it into various operational aspects of its retail locations. For example, everyday tasks relating to monitoring the contents of shelves are currently performed by technology integrated into the existing CCTV system. The larger Maxima stores also have a digital system identifying products nearing their sell-by dates, thus helping store employees to reduce surplus food. Maxima was also the first retailer in the Baltics to introduce electronic price tags for several thousand products, making work easier for employees and giving customers transparent, up-to-date and precise information.
In addition to Artificial Intelligence solutions, to ensure social distancing and food safety during the state of emergency, Maxima Latvija has implemented a range of additional preventative measures for the safety of its employees and customers:
- Protective glass barriers at checkouts between clients and cashiers;
- Ubiquitous sanitisers, and reinforced procedures for sanitisation;
- Social distancing measures ensuring a two-metre radius such as floor stickers, the use of shopping trolleys instead of baskets, a physically larger barrier between customers, security personnel supervising shoppers, and other measures;
- Glass face masks for staff at self-checkouts;
- A wide informative campaign in stores broadcasting information from TV screens, overhead announcements and on posters in various locations in stores, with recommendations on how to reduce the spread of the virus;
- Packaging of loose products such as baked goods;
- Hand sanitisers at store entrances;
- Deploying some administrative employees to help store employees in order to promote more effective work in stores;
- All employees arriving from abroad to be placed on paid leave, even if they do not believe themselves to be infected;
- All employees given access to disinfectants so that, for example, cashiers can disinfect their hands while working at the checkouts;
- Employees of Maxima’s online store Barbora.lv are offered disposable gloves and hand sanitisers; packing centres are also installed with thermometers to control the health of employees if there are any concerns;
- To prevent the spread of the virus, barbora.lv has developed and is offering clients a new method of contactless delivery. Soon Barbora.lv will open purchase collection points to include all regions of Latvia—collection points will be available at 26 Maxima stores in Latvia’s towns and villages;
- Some stores to be temporarily closed to limit customer flow;
- We are also implementing many other measures to reduce the spread of the virus, collaborating with the proper authorities and services, and are ready to implement additional measures if needed.