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Brief Published: 19 Mar 2020

Delivery & Pickup Go Contact-Free

Delivery & pickup go contact-free

In February, we wrote about China’s food delivery business amid the coronavirus, noting new protocols for contactless delivery. Now, “contact-free” is a buzzword in the US as Americans order food and more online.

While many restaurants whose kitchens remain open now depend on delivery and takeaways, 55% of consumers feel either option is "somewhat risky" (Datassential, March 11-13). Addressing the final consumer touchpoint, food-delivery service Postmates was the first to add Dropoff Options to its app, allowing users to choose between picking food up at the door as normal or kerbside, or having deliveries left outside with no contact. Restaurant delivery services like GrubHub have now made similar changes.

Among the many restaurant chains following suit, Domino's Pizza announced this week that US customers ordering online can specify where the pizza should be left (for instance, a reception desk). Customers are notified when the order arrives, and the delivery person waits at a distance until it's picked up – similar to protocols seen in China. Chipotle Mexican Grill said customers seeking to limit direct contact can leave instructions for delivery drivers in its app, which includes a delivery tracker, and that orders will be sealed in new tamper-safe packaging.

Retail chains that didn't already have a kerbside pickup option for online orders are starting to implement protocols, like US chain Dick's Sporting Goods. Independent stores are adopting the practice as well, especially bookstores catering to bored families. Word Bookstores in Brooklyn and New Jersey (whose two stores are now closed to the public) says it's "happy to lend a gloved hand in getting you through this," with pick-up from a walk-up window in one location and at kerbside in the other.