Ensuring Contactless Food and Grocery Delivery in times of Social Distancing

Contactless Food and Grocery Delivery

As nations declare complete lockdowns and billions across the globe embrace social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, consumer buying behavior is changing dramatically. The fear and anxiety of the pandemic is making people stock up pantry and household staples, cleaning supplies, medicines and other necessities. Panic and uncertain buying behavior is causing ripples in the online delivery supply chain.

The demand for home delivery and digital services has shot up, higher than ever before. Grocery delivery apps are seeing record downloads since the Coronavirus outbreak. Companies such as  Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt have seen daily downloads surge by 218%, 160%, and 124%, respectively. (Source: TechCrunch)

At the same time, ‘no-touch’ or ‘zero contact’ delivery is every customer’s demand. Restaurants,  food delivery players, and essentials suppliers are adopting best practices to handle delivery packages to ensure safe and hygienic delivery. 

Companies like DoorDash, Postmates, Just Eat, Deliveroo, and Glovo are offering a no-touch delivery option to their customers. In India, Swiggy and Zomato have also introduced contactless delivery. Quick service restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Domino’s have also launched zero-touch takeaway and delivery services.

So, what is zero-touch or contactless delivery all about?

Zero-touch or contactless delivery is typically a white-glove delivery service with minimum contact between delivery executives and customers as food or groceries are left at a spot specified by the customer at the time of ordering. 

Many companies are offering this option on their mobile apps, allowing customers to choose a clean spot outside their door where they would like their package to be dropped at. Once the order is delivered, the customer receives a picture of the delivered item and can pick it up from there. This is to ensure that social distancing is maintained.

If the food and grocery supply chain was not complicated enough, the Coronavirus outbreak has twisted it some more. This added demand for no-touch delivery has only added a layer of complexity. Delivery partners are not just risking their health to deliver food and essentials to people’s doorsteps, they must also ensure utmost hygiene and safety, both for themselves and the customers.

However, customer satisfaction is vital to the business, even in times of COVID-19! How do you ensure that your customers receive their packages well in time, and in the safest possible manner without pressurizing your delivery staff too much? 

Here are some logistics best practices that players across food, FMCG, retail, grocery, and pharma supply chains can implement to ensure efficient last-mile operations amidst this global crisis.

Keep communication clear

In such difficult times, communication is perhaps the most essential element to keep your supply chain operations running smoothly. Logistics managers need to communicate effectively with delivery partners to help them adapt to this new delivery practice i.e., contactless delivery to be able to deliver successfully. 

Your delivery partners must be aware of the ongoing global crisis and understand the importance of sanitization and the concept of no-touch deliveries. At the same time, it is equally important to keep communication clear with customers and give them real-time updates on how their packages are being handled with care and delivered as per their instructions.

Automate delivery processes

As the demand for online delivery of food, groceries, medicines, and other essentials increases by the day, planning logistics activities manually could delay your deliveries and cause unwanted errors. Automating delivery processes with the help of AI-based tech solutions can help you plan dispatches effectively, increase vehicle utilization, and reduce the need for human intervention in delivery planning. 

Additionally, you can train your delivery partners and riders with mobile apps to share live status updates of orders with customers and use smarter processes such as Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD), in this case, a picture of the order placed at the specified spot. Technology can really speed up your delivery processes and reduce the scope for errors in crunch times. 

Plan delivery routes smartly

When there are hundreds of delivery orders in a day, planning delivery routes in old-school ways won’t help much. In such crucial times, companies can hugely benefit from a good route optimization software that can plan daily delivery routes smartly, while saving fuel costs and time taken to plan routes manually. It can help logistics managers plan optimal delivery routes within minutes and reduce the on-ground time spent by delivery executives by clearly defining the most accurate routes to be taken. 

Consider rider preferences

In this world crisis, riders and delivery executives are the real heroes, ensuring food and necessities are delivered to millions of quarantined people in time. To successfully carry out logistics operations, it is important to consider the health and safety of the on-ground staff, and take into account their preferences such as delivery routes and timings that are suitable to them and assign duties accordingly. It will not only improve the productivity of your on-ground staff but also boost their morale and help them continue their valuable service to humanity.

These are testing times for supply chain and logistics enterprises around the globe. In such difficult times, adopting tech and implementing some good delivery practices (Contactless delivery or Zero touch delivery) can help you manage the complexities in your food delivery supply chain and ensure good customer satisfaction.

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