The grocery industry is facing a challenge never experienced before – how do we serve communities, expedite the supply chain and keep shelves stocked, all while keeping patrons and employees safe? As a strategic partner to grocers across the country, we're continuously working to help retailers identify new ways to meet the extraordinary demand while keeping health and safety top of mind.
While we can't predict how the situation will evolve, we can prepare for as many potential outcomes as possible. At Shipt, we've taken actions designed to keep shoppers and customers safe while continuing to serve our retail partners. The below outlines actions taken to date to not only set Shipt and its partners up for near-term success in navigating and managing the pandemic, but also long-term success as consumers change the way they shop for groceries, medicine and everyday essentials.
Adopting new shopper protections
Shopper and retail employee safety is more important than ever before. Grocers and delivery services alike are implementing new safety measures to protect their workers, such as limiting the number of people in a store or requiring worker temperature checks. At Shipt, we've proactively sourced protective equipment for all of our shoppers for pickup at their local Target store, including gloves and masks, to ensure our community feels protected when shopping orders. Additionally, we strongly recommend that shoppers leave items at a customer's doorstep to maintain social distancing when applicable.
We also know that protection goes beyond providing needed gear – we announced on March 12 that if a shopper is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is placed in mandatory individual quarantine by a public health authority, Shipt will provide up to 14 days of financial assistance – this policy remains the same today. That said, we look at every request for financial assistance individually. We want to support our shoppers in any way we can.
Growing our community to meet demand
It's no secret that meeting demand during COVID-19 has been a challenge for the grocery industry from both a grocer and delivery service perspective. Industry-wide, companies are hiring thousands of workers to meet demand. As stay-at-home orders continue to extend, consumers are looking for creative solutions to stock their fridges while keeping their families safe. To ensure we can serve our customers in a timely manner, we have more than doubled our shopper community, adding new shoppers across the country – bringing our community to a total of 200,000. Growing our community gives us the opportunity to reduce the number of customers who have had trouble getting available delivery windows. Additionally, we've extended delivery windows to four days out (from two days prior to the pandemic) in most metro areas. Looking ahead, this growing network will help us continue to serve customers as our business expands and evolves.
In addition, we understand that customer service is of the utmost importance. Since the start of the pandemic, we have more than doubled Shipt's support team to offer shoppers and customers timely support. Because of that, wait times for customers and Shipt Shoppers have been cut in half.
Rethinking the app experience
The mobile shopping experience is even more critical during a time of increased demand. At Shipt, our tech team has been heads down on app and experience updates to make sure shoppers can do their jobs while also making the shopping process as simple as possible for customers. For example, from a delivery perspective, we knew that getting a delivery window was a challenge for our customers – so we introduced an early delivery option on our app to give customers more flexibility. And as of last week, our customers can now use coupons on eligible items within our app.
COVID-19 has changed the way we, as an industry, operate, think and function. But through it all, it's inspiring to see the way in which both grocers and delivery services – especially our workers – have and continue to adapt to this unfamiliar environment. That said, we cannot become stagnant. As we continue to learn how to live with COVID-19, I urge our industry to continue thinking of new ways to better serve our workers and customers that puts safety, reliability and care first.