COVID-19: How Last Mile Delivery Technology Can Help Doorstep Services

The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting pandemic have necessitated social distancing, lockdowns, and curbs on most business operations apart from essential services such as grocery, food, medicine, healthcare, etc. COVID-19 has altered consumer behavior. Many businesses and governments could re-balance their investments to focus on technologies that can help us be resilient in these tough times.

Impact of Virus Outbreak on Business

A natural outcome has been the surge in actions that limit physical contact with the outside world. Trapped indoors, consumers have turned to internet-based options for meeting their needs right from food, essentials as well as learning and skill development to diagnosis and treatment. A lot of traditional businesses, such as jewelry, are adding e-commerce storefronts and providing home services. Doorstep services such as home deliveries of food, grocery, medicines, home blood sample collection, doorstep banking, branchless banking, and others have seen a spike.

As a result, companies providing essential items at the doorstep are trying out ways to mitigate the impact while maintaining the safety of their field resources as well as customers. Technology can go a long way in ensuring that once things normalize, a lot of businesses can operate with different models and minimize any further recurrence.

How Technology Can Help Contact-less Doorstep Deliveries

Below are some areas where technology can help businesses to customize their operations to suit this situation. This might be a comprehensive stand-alone solution for some businesses while others might have to tweak their existing platforms.

Contact-less Deliveries

Digital Payments – Temporarily discourage cash on delivery and accommodate more payment options by integrating with gateways, allowing card, wallets, net banking, and UPI based payments.

On The Go Pickup – Facilitate curbside and drive-thru pickup to make up for the decline in dine-in and in-store shopping.

Facilitate Drop at Desired Location – Allow your customers to choose where they would prefer their goods/service to be delivered – right from apartment gates, with the security, at your doorstep with customized fields and options to enter notes.

Delivery Verification – Avoid electronic signatures that require consumers to sign on delivery agent’s handheld devices physically. Instead, enable OTP based handovers or give options for customers to mark’ delivered’ via their personal devices. Geo-coded data can help verify the actual delivery location to add another layer of security to the above.

Live Tracking – Enhance your existing tracking by adding more details such as driver details, vehicle, identity, historical performance, ratings, etc. which helps customers to know whom to expect, adding extra security to the entire process

Feedback and Rewards – Boost delivery resource morale with incentives ties to safety-related parameters apart from delivery performance. Also, allow customers rate delivery agents for safety measures and send ‘thank you’ notes.

Delivery Resource Safety

Restricted Items – Digitalize recipient identity or age validation to avoid physical exchange and longer time at a place with document scan, upload etc. for restricted items such as credit cards, certain prescription drugs, alcoholic drinks, and expensive parcels.

Digital Records – Log and maintain digital records with location data of every delivery interaction, which can help authorities and medical staff to take the right action in case contact takes place with a COVID-19 infected person.

Virus Advisory – Provide in-app help-desk / FAQ section on precautions, best-practices, help-desk, live chat, and other epidemic updates, which reduce unnecessary distractions and rumor-mongering.

Route Planning – Tweak your navigation systems to restrict driving through regions that have been known for higher virus spread and provide alternative routes for higher safety.

Ensure Sanitization – Even though it might be cumbersome, enforce sanitization with push notification and reminder enabled mandatory step on driver app after every delivery by capturing evidence of sanitizer usage with time-stamped and geo-coded photos.

Last Mile Delivery Operations Optimization

Automated Dispatch Flow – Automate your end to end delivery orchestration right from order allocation, delivery resource, and vehicle management to minimize physical interactions between dispatchers, agents, and other teams

Capacity Management – Planning for reduced volumes of non-essential services and load re-balancing to handle the surge in volumes for essential items

SLA Management – Higher on-time deliveries for perishables and time-sensitive services such as medicines, sample collection

Resource Pooling – Deploy the optimal mix of on-staff and freelance drivers, share drivers between stores in the same vicinity, and enable external drivers to become freelance drivers on-demand to increase efficiency and decrease costs.

The current coronavirus situation has had far-reaching repercussions on the global economy, and there is going to be a massive surge in contactless deliveries. Fortunately, the technology to empower contactless last-mile deliveries is within everyone’s reach.

The need of the hour is a centralized last-mile delivery management solution, fully integrated with multiple other systems and accessible through mobile apps.

Looking to offer safe no-contact deliveries? Learn about Dista Delivery Orchestration Platform.