Returning to Costco demos: Our Watford trial
For Costco members and vendors alike, product demos are a huge part of the shopping experience. And they’ve certainly been missed during recent months.
However, we’ve got some good news. Demos have started to return – albeit with some significant differences.
In Costco’s Watford warehouse, product demos first returned for a two-week trial period. It’s certainly not a decision we have taken lightly, and we’ve used the demos we’ve run in Reykjavik in June (where COVID-19 has less of a hold) to trial all of the COVID-secure protocols that we’ve introduced into the UK warehouses.
Our number one priority will always be the safety of our teams, Costco’s staff and of course, Costco’s members. That’s why we’ve changed our approach for product demos; an approach we have fully tested as part of our Watford trial – here’s what you can expect.
When, what and how
Our demo trials in Costco’s Watford warehouse began on Monday, August 10th. While we know how keen so many people are to see demos return to every warehouse, we are committing to just one while we test, monitor and refine our approach.
This period has seen WDS conducting 49 demos per week – seven per day – featuring only products that we can guarantee that we can demonstrate within COVID-19 secure guidelines. However, this does still give us a number of categories to work with, namely:
- Pre-wrapped food
- Food wrapped at the demo
In order to conduct these demos in a way that ensures the safety of all those involved, the demos we are running throughout the Watford trial have looked very different to what you will have seen before. Here’s how.
Our commitment to safety
Many of the changes that we have made will be clearly visible to vendors, and to Costco’s staff and members: changes that clearly demonstrate our commitment to safety for all.
Perhaps the most obvious of these are the large protective screens affixed to our existing demo stands, keeping both members and WDS brand ambassadors safe.
In addition to these protective screens, access to demo units will be limited. Every demo unit is positioned to ensure that member access from the rear of the unit is limited, keeping our brand ambassadors safe. Our brand ambassadors have also been issued with new PPE in the form of face coverings, disposable aprons and gloves to reduce the risks still further.
Social distancing has also been considered in other areas. Signage in the warehouses and on the demo units themselves remind members of the importance of adhering to social distancing guidelines, while our teams are also working to a “one member and one sample at a time” rule, which will prevent demo areas from becoming crowded.
These single samples are being served one at a time via a ‘serving hatch’ at the base of the screen to control flow – and are all being served in single-use, non-plastic disposable containers, meaning that members need not worry about cross-contamination through re-use.
Finally, those present at the demos will also notice the regular cleaning being carried out, with our brand ambassadors having been trained in sanitising every surface of their demo unit every 30 minutes.
These are the visible differences between this two-week trial and the demos that Costco vendors and members know and love – but there’s also plenty going on behind the scenes: additional measures that we are putting in place to cement our commitment to health and safety still further.
Behind the scenes
First and foremost, all of our brand ambassadors have undertaken both a health & safety refresher course and COVID-19-specific training to ensure that they have a full understanding of both the situation and what they personally need to do to comply with requirements. In addition, they are being asked to have their temperature screened daily, along with answering a health questionnaire, so that we can keep any staff at risk of infection away from the workplace.
Social distancing measures apply behind the scenes, as well as on the warehouse floor. We are limiting the number of staff allowed in the WDS demo rooms (our offices in Costco’s warehouse) at any one time, so that distance can be maintained.
- You may like: How have Costco vendors navigated lockdown?
Last but certainly by no means least, we are ensuring a huge focus on hygiene and cleaning, with extra hand washing and surface cleaning protocols in place in the WDS demo rooms.
We’re excited about the return to product demos – and we hope you are too. While we appreciate that COVID-19 is still causing concern for so many people, we’ve taken learnings from our Reykjavik demos to feed into our approach for the Watford warehouse, where we’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe while still making sure our demos create just as much excitement as before.
For more on the great work our team are doing throughout COVID-19, visit our blog.