Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘contactless delivery’ is no longer a convenience but a necessity. It has become a standard procedure for many industries, especially for restaurants and grocery stores, to limit physical contact and keep employees and customers safe.
For ecommerce, although direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands already deliver orders to customers ‘contact-free,’ it’s still important to understand how contactless delivery procedures work and how they (and contactless safety measures in other parts of the supply chain) impact your business and customers during these times.
In this guide, we’ll go over how contactless delivery works and what you need to know as an ecommerce business.
What is contactless delivery?
Contactless delivery is the practice of delivering an order with limited or no contact between the delivering party and the customer. In 2021, contactless delivery became the standard as more shoppers turned to online shopping to get groceries and other essentials delivered safely and more conveniently.
The growing need for contactless delivery
While contactless delivery technology is nothing new, the coronavirus pandemic forced contactless delivery and curbside pickup to become a necessity, especially for restaurants and grocery stores. Anyone who has used a food delivery app like Postmates, DoorDash, GrubHub, or Uber Eats since 2020 has experienced how contact-free delivery works.
But contact-free technology is not just for takeout and food delivery services — other industries are exploring ways to reduce contact points with individuals, such as hotels, apartment complexes, and even retirement centres. For example, UPS and CVS recently teamed up to deliver prescriptions via drones to a retirement community in Florida.
The need for contactless options has offered a unique opportunity to further invest in delivery robotics. Neolix Technologies recently announced it has raised over $28.7 million to produce self-driving vehicles for driverless delivery. Investments in contactless delivery technology will continue to improve the delivery experience, even years after the contact-free movement and ecommerce boom from COVID-19.
How does contactless delivery work?
The entire basis behind contactless delivery is that there is no need to sign for, hand off, or exchange goods in person, and ideally no contact whatsoever with the delivery driver. The order is simply dropped off at its predetermined destination and a notification (via phone call, text, or email) is sent to the customer.
Oftentimes, there are different contactless delivery options a customer can choose from while staying informed about their order. Some options include the ability to provide instructions on where to leave their order (e.g., on the front steps, by the mailbox, with the front desk or concierge, etc.) and whether or not to ring the doorbell, make a call, or send a text when the delivery arrives. Depending on the carrier, a delivery driver might even take a picture of the package and send it to the customer.
Ensure safety and success during contactless delivery
Since ecommerce businesses don’t have to worry about interacting with customers face to face, it’s still important to understand how you can help reduce risk and get customer orders delivered safely. Here are some of the procedures being put in place to ensure proper contact-free delivery during these times.
1. Customers are notified of delivery via SMS or email
Since the start of COVID-19, 1 in 5 Americans reported being victims of package theft with 18% having had a package or delivery stolen since March 2020. Although contactless delivery helps avoid contact between the delivery driver and the end customer, it does increase the risk of packages being stolen if the customer fails to know it’s been delivered.
Delivery theft has always been a risk, but since more shoppers are ordering online, package theft has seen a significant spike. To reduce package theft, many carriers and third-party delivery services are implementing ways to notify your customers right away about deliveries such as UPS My Choice.
With contactless delivery, many times customers can opt-in to receive updates about the status of their delivery via SMS or email. Of course, ecommerce order tracking is already commonplace, which allows your customers to view their order status at any time, see where exactly the order is, and check to see if it’s been delivered.
2. How delivery drivers are staying safe
To ensure proper safety measures, most delivery drivers are required to wear PPE equipment when dropping off an order at its destination. This helps keep both the customer and the delivery driver safe while handling packages and dropping them off. This includes:
- Wearing gloves that cover both wrists.
- Wearing a face mask properly, covering mouth and nose.
- Storing hand sanitiser in delivery trucks and using it regularly.
- Requiring temperature checks of all delivery employees before starting their shift.
How 3PLs are ramping up safety for contactless delivery
Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are increasing their safety measures to keep employees safe and to ensure uninterrupted service. While 3PLs handle order fulfilment and are not in contact with end customers, they are taking precautions to prevent warehouses from shutting or slowing down operations during these high-risk times.
For example, ShipBob has several fulfilment centre locations and hasn’t had to shut down operations once since COVID-19 hit (click here for the latest updates). We have taken extra precautions to keep our employees safe and keep operations running as usual.
We also communicate with our merchants regularly with updates related to COVID-19, including a recent letter from our CEO, to keep them informed on anything that impacts their business.
Here are some of the ways ShipBob has taken extensive safety measures since February 2020.
1. Requiring safety masks/PPE and temperature checks before entering fulfilment centres
All ShipBob fulfilment centre employees are required to wear safety masks and pass temperature checks before starting their shift.These safety requirements apply to everyone — not just workers but drivers picking up, people dropping off inventory, vendors, contractors, carriers, and anyone else that must enter our facilities.
2. Multiple cleanings per hour in every fulfilment centre
ShipBob increased its cleaning schedules at each fulfilment centre with additional cleaners and shifts. All surfaces get cleaned multiple times per hour every day.
3. Social distancing inside the facilities
We’ve placed markers on the floor to further direct employees and to ensure social distancing practices are followed during pre-shift stretches and standup meetings (all meetings are conducted in small groups). Social distancing markers are also placed on the floor near time clocks so employees practice social distancing while waiting in line to clock in or out.
To help keep your business running smoothly, ShipBob is doing its part to keep everyone safe and our fulfilment centres open and operating. As an ecommerce business during these times, it’s important to understand how your suppliers, vendors, and partners are keeping their employees and your end customers safe, so you can continue to grow your business.
If you’re looking for a trustworthy 3PL to partner with, we’re here to help. Click the link below to talk to a fulfilment expert. You’ll receive info on pricing and how ShipBob works.
Contactless delivery FAQ
Contactless delivery has become a new standard for most industries. Here are some common questions about what contactless delivery means and how it’s implemented.
1. What is contactless delivery?
Contactless delivery is a delivery procedure in which the end customer receives a delivery with very little or no contact with the delivery driver. Since the start of COVID-19, many companies are offering contactless delivery to further protect their employees, customers, and end customers.
2. How is contactless delivery operating during COVID-19?
During COVID-19, businesses that offer delivery services are now required to offer contactless delivery options to keep customers and delivery drivers safe. This new norm has sped up the need to implement new technology to improve contactless delivery options and reduce risk, such as using drones to drop off packages.
3. How does contactless delivery work?
When a customer places an order online, sometimes through a third-party app, they are given an option on how they’d like their order to be delivered. Depending on what’s being delivered, a customer might be able to choose a time frame and a specific dropoff location. To avoid package theft or damage (such as food spoilage), a customer is notified when their order has arrived.