Zero-contact delivery becomes the norm during Covid-19

Food delivery has become the ‘go to’ with restricted movement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the disease outbreak continues to spread, the safety of both consumers and riders has become paramount and many companies have instituted a zero-contact or no-touch delivery policy writes ISA Q TAN.

In an article written for forbes.com, Jon Bird, CEO of marketing communications agency VMLY&R in Australia and New Zealand, noted that the trend began where the coronavirus began in China.

“In that market, which is ahead of the game in online retail, food vendors facing consumer lockdowns very quickly offered ‘contactless delivery, leaving orders at a door, in a locker, or at a designated drop-off station’. Some meal services even listed the names and the body temperature of the people who cooked and delivered the food, for customer peace of mind,” he wrote.

In just a short time, the practice picked up in various countries around the world. Quick service restaurants and food delivery platforms were among the first to do so.

In Southeast Asia, popular food delivery apps foodpanda, GrabFood, and GoFood are just some of the many companies offering contactless delivery.

“Indonesia’s Gojek, which runs GoFood, provides a body temperature card that informs customers of the body temperature of everyone involved in the food preparation process…”

EJ De la Vega, Head of GrabFood Philippines, explained that after placing an order, customers inform their delivery-partners where the food must be dropped off. Upon arrival, the delivery-partners will place the order in the specified location, notify the customers of their arrival and wait for them to pick up the order, standing at least 2m away from the order.

Contactless delivery also encourages, and in some cases requires, the use of cashless payment like GrabPay or GoPay. Those who opt to pay  cash are encouraged to provide the exact amount.

Upping safety

Indonesia’s Gojek, which runs GoFood, provides a body temperature card that informs customers of the body temperature of everyone involved in the food preparation process, such as the cook and cashier of the partner merchants, as well as the driver delivering the food. (link to our story)

Foodpanda Philippines has instructed riders to wash their hands with soap every two hours, avoid unnecessary touching of the face, use hand sanitizer/alcohol before and after each delivery, and wear masks.

Zero-contact delivery allows customers to get their order directly without contact with the rider.

For its part, GrabFood Philippines said its driver centers are equipped with sanitizer/disinfectant refill stations to give delivery-partners easy access and allow them to disinfect delivery bags throughout the day.

These companies also ensure their partner restaurants and merchants practice proper health and safety protocols.

Some hiccups

At this time, the biggest hiccup to contactless delivery is delayed delivery. With Covid-19 being highly contagious, fear of catching the disease has led to a drop in the number of delivery-riders. At a time when demand is growing, this has led to longer delivery times.

“With Covid-19 being highly contagious, fear of catching the disease has led to a drop in the number of delivery-riders.”

In the Philippines where the internet infrastructure needs upgrading, customers have reported difficulty in placing orders and paying online.

What’s next

foodpanda Philippines told Asian Agribiz that even before the pandemic, the company was already practicing high standards of food hygiene and working with its riders and merchants to guarantee food safety.

“In future we will also take into consideration the opinions of public health experts, local laws and health mandates, as well as the wishes of our customers, riders and restaurants.”

“….the natural next step is to take humans off the equation entirely and move into robot retail.”

In his article, Mr Bird pointed out that “the natural next step is to take humans off the equation entirely” and move into robot retail. He noted that once again China is leading the way. Online retail giants like JD.com and Alibaba-owned Ele.me were using robots to deliver in quarantined areas during the worst of the Covid-19 outbreaks there.

Current developments indicate that Covid-19 will remain a health concern in the months ahead—and maybe even years. Concerns are also mounting about future disease outbreaks, and consumers are more conscious about safety. Today, contactless delivery is a practice that is fast becoming a habit, and one that is likely here to stay.