While lockdown restrictions are being lifted across each state and territory, social distancing will continue to drive differences in how people shop. Changes are driven by both the rules in place and each customer’s individual attitude to perceived risk.

These are 5 of my recommended KPIs for tracking efficiency and productivity in this changing world:

1. Click and Collect order retrieval – Online shopping has experienced significant growth while stores were closed, and new customers tried online shopping for the first time. Customers choose Click and Collect for convenience so speedy parcel retrieval is important for your customers and the efficiency of your operation.

In the UK, the average time we’ve measured for a customer to collect an order is 1m 27 seconds. There is variability in retrieval time between retailers and the fastest takes less than 30 seconds. They achieve this by having great storage at the collection point and slick admin processes too. The things we’ve seen slowing down collection include parcel stores at the far end of the warehouse, colleagues rummaging through a pile of unsorted orders and paper admin.

Measure how long you take and do what you can to shave off seconds.

2. Match colleagues to customer flow – Customers will be shopping differently, and social distancing guidance will reduce the maximum numbers of people in your store. All this change means that your tried and tested rota patterns are probably not working for you just now. Ideally, you will use footfall data and your workforce management system’s schedule effectiveness metrics to ensure you have the right colleagues available at the right time. As an alternative, use queue lengths as a proxy as they will tell you if you’ve got the balance right. Too few colleagues mean longer queues and poor customer experience, too many colleagues and you are inefficient.

3. Tap and go – use your till system metrics to track tap and go usage. We’ve measured enough transactions to know that tap and go takes half the time of chip and pin payment and is quicker than cash too. Drive up your tap and go percentage because it’s safer and more efficient.

4. Stock availability – I don’t mean a theoretical number generated from your supply systems; I mean a KPI that tells you how many gaps you have on your shelves. Efficiency is about making the most of revenue opportunities and losing sales through out of stock lines is a big miss. The challenge of shifting customers purchasing patterns that put new demands on your stock fulfilment systems and routes, which may have been impacted by Covid themselves, could lead to disappointed customers and lost sales. Use a shelf availability KPI or a measure of shop floor gaps to ensure you are fulfilling customers’ shopping lists and never missing a sale.

5. Customer Experience – Customer satisfaction scores are an important metric at any time and smart retailers will pore over their scores and comments even more during this turbulent time when there is much to be learnt from customer feedback. A programme that encourages rich customer feedback and goes beyond just capturing a score or an “it was okay” comment from customers will provide invaluable insight that will help you improve your operation as we go through this period of change.

Efficiency improvement was once just the domain of retail operations geeks. Now it’s an ongoing and essential pursuit to ensure a busines can make the most of the new opportunities that will develop in this Covid world and beyond.

Simon Hedaux is founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity