Contactless Delivery: Ensuring Safety Through Technology

We’re living in a new reality. People are social by nature, but now we’re isolating ourselves to protect the vulnerable among us. This atmosphere of uncertainty, coupled with our change in lifestyle, is accelerating a process that was already on the rise: contactless delivery.

Customers want orders delivered with no physical contact. Drivers too, want to reduce the risk of infection by limiting contact with customers and people they meet throughout the delivery process.

This post will look at the current demand for no contact delivery, the challenges behind setting it up, and how businesses can use existing technologies to offer fast, safe, contactless delivery.

Contactless Delivery in 2021: Providers scramble to meet skyrocketing demand

In the span of a few days, delivery has gone from being a convenience to a necessity – especially when it comes to food and medical supplies.

Consumers are avoiding going outside; according to a Technomic survey, 32% of consumers are leaving their houses less often, and the same number are eating out less frequently.

However, 13% of consumers are ordering restaurant delivery more often – and given the growing global adoption of social distancing, we can expect that percentage to skyrocket.

Restaurant takeaway sales, already increasing year over year, grew by 8.7% in February alone. Digital Grocery is also booming: 30% of surveyed consumers used online grocery pickup or delivery services in the second week of march, according to Gordon Haskett – significantly higher than the online grocery adoption rate before now. Retail giant Amazon announced it was hiring 100,000 new delivery and fulfillment workers to keep up with this rising demand.

Given that customers are ordering online in order to avoid crowded restaurants and retail locations, it would be counterproductive for them to be in close contact with their delivery driver. This might be why corporate companies like McDonalds and Starbucks extended their contactless delivery operations in China last month.

In the U.S., grocery and food delivery providers like Postmates and DoorDash have joined restaurant aggregators like Grubhub and Uber Eats in offering no contact dropoff options such as leaving groceries at the door, and curbside pickup.

While doorstep drop off is a good initiative, and a widely recognized one, it’s only one of many measures that must be taken if businesses want to quickly stand up a reliably contact-free delivery process.

Ensuring safety from order prep to proof of delivery

When considering contactless delivery, here are some processes you will need to think about:

No Contact Delivery: 7 Processes to Consider:

  • Order preparation
  • Delivery messages during shopping and checkout
  • Notifying customers of arrival
  • Number masking
  • Handling tips, rejections and returns
  • Delivery of restricted items
  • Managing proof of delivery

Order preparation

Orders must be prepared in a contact-free environment. One danger point is during handover. In grocery fulfillment, pickers move full bags to a staging area; in warehouses, workers sort packages by loading bays; in restaurants without separate counters for diners and drivers, a staff member may grab bags from the kitchen and move them to a staging area.

Related: Mastering Restaurant Delivery Operations with Data

Safe, contactless delivery messages while shopping and at checkout

The greatest concern for customers (and by proxy, for businesses) is what happens when the delivery reaches the customer. Businesses can calm these concerns by communicating the safety measures they have in place throughout the shopping experience.

For most customers, no contact means that the driver drops the delivery on their doorstep, this should be specifically mentioned during checkout. Otherwise, customers may abandon their purchases, or strain your call centers with concerns about delivery safety.

Similarly, face-to-face communication between customers and drivers should be replaced with digital communications that take many elements into consideration:

Notifying customers of arrival

The usual ring or knock on the door must be replaced by other forms of communication. And since no one wants drivers calling or texting customers while driving, that notification should be triggered automatically throughout the delivery process.

Number masking

Direct calling, sms and other forms of digital communication will replace face-to-face talking between drivers and customers. However, not everyone wants to give their number to drivers, and not every driver wants the customer to have their number. That’s why whichever application or method you use to manage driver and customer conversations, should mask phone numbers.

Handling rejections, returns and tips

How will you manage transactions that usually take place when the driver is standing in front of the customer? For example, when a supermarket runs out of inventory, the driver usually brings replacement items that the customer has to approve; however, customers can only approve or reject replacements once they have the inventory in front of them.

SEE: The Profitable Digital Grocer

Tipping is another issue. Drivers already risk their health to perform deliveries today; losing their tip could lead to drivers quitting just when delivery is critical for keeping businesses – and their customers – afloat.

Delivery of Restricted Items

Some prescription drugs, alcoholic drinks, and expensive or sensitive packages usually require that drivers confirm the recipient’s identity or age. This often requires that customers hand over their drivers license, or another valid ID. This process should be digitized to maintain regulatory compliance, without requiring any physical exchange between the driver and recipient.

Proof of Delivery

Many businesses require a signature as proof of delivery. When a driver needs to collect proof of delivery, they usually hand over their phone or tablet to the customer – a complete breach of contactless delivery.

These are just a few examples of what truly contactless delivery means. Fortunately, businesses can turn to technology to address all of these issues and enable no contact delivery without limiting their delivery options or services.

Automating complex delivery flows: What no contact delivery looks like

In order to orchestrate true no contact deliveries, businesses must first ensure that they have full visibility and control over their delivery logistics. Automation can then help businesses replace manual processes with digital ones and reduce the need for contact between people along the entire delivery flow.

What an Automated, Contactless Delivery Flow Looks Like:

  • Actively communicate contactless delivery in marketing, during the shopping and at checkout
  • Automate your driver and vehicle management to reduce contact between dispatchers, drivers, and other teams
  • Integrate external fleets with your other systems, so that contracted and crowdsourced drivers can use the same no contact delivery standards and solutions as your internal team.
  • Use your driver applications to automate processes like rejections, tips, and alternative proofs of delivery – such as a photo in place of a signature.
  • Use your automated delivery updates to notify the customer when they can expect a delivery, to enable them to remotely communicate with the driver.

When a customer reaches online checkout, the only delivery option they should have is no contact delivery. For parcel and food delivery, that usually means doorstep drop off. But for any service that requires staff to enter people’s homes, you must make sure to communicate the safety measures you have in place to both drivers and customers.

For example, businesses can make sure safety requirements are met by making it mandatory for drivers to upload photos of them wearing gloves and masks, or asking drivers to confirm that they have used hand sanitizer. This must be communicated early on to customers through every available communication channel, to calm customers and build trust.

The delivery option, additional safety requirements and all other information related to contactless delivery must be integrated with the driver’s communication tools, whether the order takes place on your website or an aggregator’s site, and whether you use internal or external fleets for delivery.

Automating customer and driver communications enables customers to track their delivery, and communicate any changes in the delivery or the order with the driver. With the right technology, customers can remotely approve a digital tip to drivers without any face-face interaction.

Similarly, when using an integrated application, drivers can call customers in advance to confirm they are home and take photos of the order on the customer’s porch or at their door as proof of delivery.

2021 will be the year of contactless delivery

The demand for contactless delivery is clear, and luckily, the technology to enable it is readily accessible.
The solutions mentioned above worked best when they are part of a centralized delivery management system, with full integration between internal and external teams and systems, and technologies that improve every step in your delivery flows.

Business who want to offer no contact deliveries must begin implementing these technologies and processes as soon as possible.

Interested in solutions for safe delivery? Learn about Bringg’s Delivery Orchestration Platform.

About Author

Zahava Dalin-Kaptzan


About Author

Zahava Dalin-Kaptzan

Zahava is a marketing manager at Bringg, with a unique take on delivery and retail trends. She has extensive experience in analyzing disruptive technology and its impact on both markets and enterprises.

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