In March, the National Restaurant Association projected a $225 billion impact from COVID-19 [source]. Since then, much has changed — particularly the growing adoption of social distancing guidelines to combat the spread of the virus. At a time when fear for consumer safety is high, operational restaurants and food retailers must adapt to the current conditions.
These companies must comply with state and local restrictions as well as provide reassurance to consumers that their purchases and orders have been handled with the utmost care. As a result, labels are playing an essential role in the implementation of critical safety precautions.
Particularly, fast casual restaurants and food retailers are communicating new offerings, adding tamper evident labels to customer orders, and reinforcing social distancing guidelines with floor and wall decals. All of these measures rest on the swift design and production of label solutions.
However, it takes careful considerations to ensure that the specified labels and decals meet application requirements for functionality, durability, and volume. In a crisis, there is little time to belabor these decisions, so transparency, expertise, and open communication are imperative.
Checklist of important considerations
To guide the decision making of fast casual restaurants and essential retailers around these solutions, our team compiled a checklist of important considerations to arrive at the best possible label and/or decals for urgent applications when time is of the essence:
1. Understand the necessary business model changes
If businesses are narrowing selection, introducing new products, leaning into delivery services, or cordoning off portions of retail spaces, it’s important to start with a fresh blueprint of how the business will work for the following weeks and months (or potentially longer).
2. Assess operations for potential hurdles to social distancing and assuring consumer safety
Restaurants and retailers should start with a big-picture examination of their needs for floor or wall signage, tamper evident labels, and any other special needs that enhance worker and customer safety.
3. Know where and when durability matters
Not every application requires maximum durability. For example, a label placed on a customer's food order to confirm proper sealing of a box or bag can only indicate improper handling if it's capable of tearing or leaving tamper evidence. In this instance, a removable adhesive label designed to leave no trace is ineffective.
However, if in the need of applying floor decals for physical distancing at six-foot increments, products should be highly durable to perform under continuous foot traffic, with non-slip textures. When thinking about the safety of your patrons, it is important to incorporate products that help reduce potential liabilities and minimize maintenance and replacement costs.
Find resilience by controlling what we can
It’s difficult to project the total impact of COVID-19 on restaurants and retailers. The virus — and society’s handling of it — is likely to transform day-to-day life further out than we think. Through the very real concerns we all feel for the safety of our loved ones, and the anxiety that comes with economic uncertainty, we find resilience by controlling what we can. I’m really proud of RRD’s work to empower these companies to do what they can do to stay open and help keep their workers and customers safe.
Bruce Hanson is President of RRD Labels & Forms.