Amid widespread fears over coronavirus, delivery operators such as Instacart, DoorDash and Postmates are taking extra measures to protect the health and safety of the delivery ecosystem, which involves food and package handling stretching from grocery stores and restaurants to gig drivers to consumers.
Instacart, the online grocery delivery system available at nearly 25,000 stores in more than 5,500 cities in the U.S. and Canada, has been testing its new “Leave at My Door Delivery” feature and last week rolled it out to all customers across North America. “Leave at My Door Delivery” was originally designed to provide a more flexible option for customers that may not be home at the time of delivery.
In a statement, Instacart announced, “Over the last week, in particular, we observed a significant surge in consumer adoption and opt-in usage of the feature. Based on the increased demand for this new product feature, we’ve now made it available to all Instacart customers — bringing even more flexibility and optionality to their grocery delivery experience.”
Customers can now opt-in to “Leave at My Door Delivery” as part of their delivery options at checkout, and can also provide more specific delivery instructions like a gate code or apartment number. A real-time photo will alert customers when their groceries are at their doorstep.
On Monday, food delivery company DoorDash said it is “testing enhanced features for contactless delivery to be rolled out shortly.”
Additionally, DoorDash said it is reminding consumers in affected areas of the app’s "delivery instruction" feature, which allows requests for food to be left at the door along with a photo of where the food should be left.
“We will continue to closely monitor and take action in response to this developing situation,” the San Francisco-based company said.
The delivery market leader in the U.S. has also set up a tips page for its Dashers, or drivers. The page lists actions and advice for protecting drivers and others from the coronavirus. The page, for example, tells drivers to be vigilant about cleaning their cars and hot bags.
“Keep surfaces, including your hot bag and vehicle, clean by using regular household cleaning spray or wipes,” the site states.
While third-party delivery operators can’t control when gig employees opt to work, the company strongly encouraged drivers to stay at home if they feel sick especially if "you are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or shortness of breath, cold or flu-like symptoms.”
DoorDash said employees based in Seattle, one of the most impacted cities in the U.S., have been told to work from home. The city’s onboarding Dasher, or driver, support center has also been closed.
The company said it is also preparing to distribute much-needed supplies such as hand sanitizers to drivers in affected areas.
Restaurant delivery company Postmates has also introduced a non-contact delivery option on its app for customers who prefer restaurant or merchant deliveries to be left at the door. Drivers are alerted to the preference at the time of delivery.
“We're the first food delivery company in the U.S. to offer this and we think that it is a way to make both customers and the fleet comfortable while making and receiving deliveries,” the third-party delivery company told Nation’s Restaurant News, a sister publication of Supermarket News.
“For corporate employees, we've suspended non-essential travel and have always had a flexible work-from-home policy, at the manager's discretion,” DoorDash said.