Contactless Delivery - How to Offer it More Safely and Effectively

by Rich Wheeless - ParcelPal CEO

When we look back at the year 2020 post-COVID-19, among many things we will remember is the birth of, or should we say, the boom of contactless delivery.  In fact, it’s going to be a major moment in history for most of us depending on our age (e.g. – the remote control, computer, iPhone).

As a courier services provider with a sizable footprint in western Canada, this is an important paradigm shift for ParcelPal.  This has thrust courier services into the spotlight as the need for delivery and logistics have increased with people working remotely.  The ability to have something delivered accurately, timely, and safely has never been more important.

One of the primary challenges facing retailers trying to revive sales during the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for staying apart.  Shoppers aren’t just avoiding public spaces, but also avoiding close contact with other people, even delivery drivers.  This situation has fueled the need for contactless delivery and, at essential stores that are still open, contactless, or curbside pickup options.

For a lot of non-essential retailers, offering contactless delivery or pickup is the only way they can be in business.  For the essential retailers, it’s all about safety.  I think it’s paramount for courier services and local businesses to focus on how they can offer delivery safely and protect both customers and employees.  

Delivery is fast becoming the only option for most non-essential retailers, and the contactless approach is now preferred even in situations and segments where signing for delivery is the norm.  This is for the good of workers as well as customers.  While a shopper may be nervous about accepting a package in person, a driver is at a significantly higher risk of contact with an infected person due to the volume of deliveries they complete in a day. Think about it like this: you’re risking your delivery driver, who could then infect some of your customers a couple of days down the road.  We’ve been talking about keeping the customers safe, but when you really look at it you need to think about how to keep the delivery driver safe as well.  

These conditions exacerbate the need to quickly scale up a contactless delivery program, but there are solutions and apps that can ease the process.  For example, apps that allow retailers to track driver locations can help ensure they’re learning the routes and bringing packages to the right locations.  Additionally, leveraging the educational capabilities of an app can help onboard new drivers in far less time than traditional methods.

Leveraging an app to instruct your workers is super crucial right now and the heart of what makes ParcelPal special.  If you’re trying to scale whatever you are doing, you’re not going to have time for training. It’s important that you can get people started immediately, and that starts with having an app that guides workers through the processes they need to facilitate.

This pandemic will not last forever, but I believe new shopping habits will be formed.  Retailers must quickly build their contactless capabilities in response to social distancing, but they also need to keep an eye on how their customers are responding to these options in general.  Contactless options are being used out of necessity at the moment, but they may set the foundation for a wider mobile revolution in the future.  At the very least, the post-coronavirus atmosphere in China suggests that things won’t immediately return to normal.

If you look at what we’re seeing coming out of China it suggests that there’s a long-term impact.  There’s a lot of hesitation from consumers, even when all stores are fully back open and restrictions on travel have been lifted. I believe consumers will still be focused on mobile ordering and contactless delivery.  This makes absolute sense and I believe it makes the transaction faster and smoother.  But as we make this transition to contactless delivery it is important that it is done safely and effectively. Here are a few steps courier services, businesses and people, in general, can follow:

  1. Leave clear delivery instructions – Whenever you order online, you will see an empty field titled “delivery instructions.”  Normally, you might use this to provide a gate code, but now, you can ask drivers to drop off food at the door or send a photo of where the food should be left.  Customers can often also contact their driver directly through the apps to make any delivery arrangements, as soon as the driver accepts the order. You can keep up to date on what your preferred delivery app or service is doing to mitigate infection on their websites. For example, our company has distributed hand sanitizer and gloves to drivers, and have worked with our partners to share some best practices for deliveries at this time.  We have also provided employees and drivers with the CDC’s recommendations for the best hygiene and appropriate precautions for interacting with others. 
  2. Immediately Wash Your Hands – To play it safe, wash your hands for 30 seconds with soap and warm water, and avoid touching your face after bringing your delivery inside. Like other viruses, the coronavirus can also survive on surfaces or objects, so it’s important to keep those clean. Recycle the bags that the delivery comes in, and disinfect your tables and counters on where the package was sitting. 
  3. Overtip your driver, as it is the proper thing to do – Delivery drivers are typically either paid by the job (on gig platforms) or by the hour (usually at restaurants).  They don’t have a work from home option if they want to earn money like many of us do.I recommend tipping food delivery drivers 20% or more during special circumstances like these.  The safest way to tip your driver is through the delivery app.  If you tip with cash, make sure to wash your hands after you touch any bills.  And if you have to sign a receipt to add a tip via credit card, use your own pen and again, wash those hands afterward.

These are strange times but it will get better soon.  Out of the chaos, some good always shines through, especially if you are providing essential and logistics/courier services. It has made us rethink processes and innovate new ways to serve our customers better and keep everyone safe.  This has led to more efficient plans and procedures benefiting individuals, our communities, and the world as a whole.