When the world gives you lemons….
The invisible enemy that is COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of life for people everywhere. Yet the world continues to turn, and businesses continue to operate, with a few noteworthy exceptions.
One of the key innovations that has allowed retailers and restaurants to meet the needs of their customers at a time of intense social distancing and other precautions is COVID contactless delivery. As with any business practice, there’s a right way and a wrong way to implement contactless delivery. To help retailers, their employees, and their customers adjust to safe delivery methods, businesses and public health officials have created contactless delivery best practices.
How to Ensure Food Deliveries are Safe
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that at present there is no evidence that a person could become infected with COVID-19 after handling or eating food on which the virus was present. However, it may be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a food package or dining utensils and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly eyes.
Guidelines issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explain how restaurants and other food and beverage vendors can reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for employees:
- Encourage workers to stay home if they feel ill.
- Minimize all direct hand-offs.
- Provide clear instructions for customers using curbside pickup.
- Give employees plenty of opportunities to wash their hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces that employees touch regularly.
- Practice social distancing and encourage online and phone payments.
Another COVID-19 precaution that restaurants and other retailers are encouraging their customers to use is contactless delivery that combines online or phone payments with the ability to pick up the products they order on their porch, doorstep, or other secure location. The Nation’s Restaurant News lists the steps entailed in implementing best practices for safe food delivery:
- Make sure food is delivered as quickly as possible after it is cooked.
- Ensure that food packaging is airtight and done in a way that keeps hot food hot and cold food cold.
- Use tamper-resistant seals on food packages.
- Clean and sanitize any reusable packaging after each use.
- Delivery personnel should wash their hands frequently with soap and water, and they should be encouraged to wear gloves that they throw away after one use.
Restaurants and food vendors can make their customers feel confident their food is safe by labeling packages with the time and date of the pickup and delivery, and by providing heating or reheating instructions, if necessary.
Using COVID Contactless Delivery with Online Shopping to Mitigate Risk
The growth in online shopping predates the coronavirus pandemic, but the practice has become a lifeline since COVID-19 struck for retailers and customers alike. As with many aspects of COVID, contactless delivery entails learning some new safety skills. Among the COVID-19 safe business practices is the instruction to restrict person-to-person interaction by encouraging delivery and pickup as part of the store’s social-distancing strategy.
By combining online shopping with contactless delivery, stores and their customers reduce the risk of infection tremendously. To promote this effort, talech will waive online ordering fees through September 2020. Another advantage of online ordering for delivery is the ability of customers to track their purchases and receive an estimated time of arrival. They can also use the business’s website or mobile app to report any delivery glitches or other problems with their orders.
Despite their increasing popularity, online ordering systems can be a challenge for customers to get used to. A mistake some retailers make is to devise a slapdash online ordering function that they can polish up later. This approach can be stressful for employees and discouraging for customers. Instead, restaurants and other retailers can quickly plan and implement an online ordering function that is reliable and easy to use while meeting all of the business’s needs.
Why Delivery and Curbside Pickup Beat the Drive-Through Window
The activity with the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 is person-to-person contact, so delivery of prepaid merchandise is the safest way to transact. The National Safety Council explains that prepayment eliminates having to exchange cash or a credit card from person to person.
An alternative to delivery to a home, business, or other location is customer pickup at the business. In this instance, curbside pickup is preferred over use of a drive-through window because the former minimizes person-to-person contact. Even when keeping at least six feet away from others, all parties should wear face masks, keep the exchange to a minimum, and sanitize their hands afterwards.
The National Restaurant Association offers six best practices for restaurant delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Identify certain staff members as delivery specialists. This helps improve order accuracy and creates a single point of contact for all delivery orders.
- Plan ahead for an increase in delivery orders. Create space within the restaurant to organize delivery orders so that drivers can find orders and confirm them easily.
- Keep food fresh with proper packaging. Use insulated containers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Ventilate dishes when necessary and use tamper-proof seals.
- Provide drivers with complete instructions. In addition to having the correct address, drivers need to know apartment and building numbers, gate codes, and clear directions about where to leave the orders.
- Allow drivers and customers to communicate directly. Delivery applications aren’t always accurate about delivery times and other information. Drivers can use phone and text to contact the customer directly when they need help finding an address.
- Make sure drivers are adequately protected. Provide drivers with face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and other equipment they need to wipe down all shared surfaces, such as pens, credit cards, cash, gate and door handles, and doorbells.
Businesses are learning the rules for operating safely in the COVID-19 era. They understand the need to adjust and pivot as conditions change. Now retailers are working with their customers to ensure the safe delivery of the products and services customers need using all available resources. Contactless delivery will remain popular with customers and retailers long after the need for COVID-19 precautions has passed.
In a period of change, talech has a number of POS solutions that can help your business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence. Get your free personalized demo to see how you can benefit from talech POS.
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