• The Reimagine Team

Contactless Deliveries: How Digital Tools Are Helping Businesses Adapt And Stay Open

Updated: Jan 27

Since the start of the pandemic, media have run regular reports on how front-of-house teams and their customers have been adapting to the new normal. Some measures – such as introducing hand sanitizers and extra space between restaurant tables – make logical sense. Other measures – like introducing mannequins and to make restaurants appear fuller – still tend to feel like publicity stunts. But away from the media spotlight, back-of-house teams and delivery drivers in restaurants, convenience stores and other outlets have also been under pressure to change the way they work together as successive waves of Covid restrictions come and go.

In a survey conducted by HAVI Supply Chain towards the end of 2020, 85% of respondents indicated that they are equally concerned about equipping their backroom employees to deal with the next normal, especially when it comes to complying with new social distancing rules. In particular, they are keen to keep deliveries from their logistics providers contact-free.

The good news is that work is well underway on rolling out digital tools designed to do exactly that. We caught up with Torsten Oldhues, Director Global Operations at HAVI. Torsten and the HAVI team are leading the implementation of paperless delivery tool called HAVI Digital Delivery (HDD) at customers’ restaurants and convenience stores across Europe. Supply Chains Reimagined (SCR) started by asking Torsten about the early impact of Covid-19 on the roll out.

SCR: Can you talk us through the issues that you and the HDD implementation team have encountered as a direct result of the pandemic?

Torsten: For a start, the start of the pandemic delayed the implementation because many restaurants and convenience stores stopped operating during lockdown. Once businesses started to reopen, it was clear that the pandemic was going to make implementing HDD even more challenging and complex. Not only did lockdown trigger changes to familiar operational processes, but social distancing rules also brought additional challenges to the delivery process.

Potentially, these challenges could have compromised the trusted working relationships that HAVI drivers enjoy with crew members at their delivery points. They also raised a number of other very practical questions. For example: how do we encourage our customers to embrace HDD’s digital sign-on glass and its many other functions while still ensuring that our drivers remain two metres away from anyone else during a delivery?

SCR: In other words, you needed to strike a balance between old and new, between introducing advanced technology and managing the human factor?

Torsten: Correct. Importantly, resolving the issue meant working closely with our customers. Together, we came up with a plan that would keep everyone involved in the delivery process at a safe distance from each other while still allowing them to enjoy their close and valued working relationships. Under this plan, our driver alerts the restaurant or store with a personal phone call giving their arrival time. This ensures crew members are in the right position to take delivery. Instead of a crew member having to sign on the HDD device, the driver simply adds the crew member's name to the device and our HAVIConnect collaboration platform does the rest.

SCR: In practice, of course, we all know that restaurants and convenience stores can be busy places. What happens if crew members can't take the driver's call or get into the right position to meet them?

Torsten: As a last resort, our driver goes back to the old-fashioned way of doing things by standing outside the restaurant or store with a sign reading Goods Delivery HAVI to catch the crew’s attention. Who says we can't get creative while working towards our next normal?

If the crew explicitly needs support from our driver to move goods into the customer's backroom, our drivers are permitted to enter the area provided they are wearing a mask covering their nose and mouth.

SCR: Sounds like you’ve been on a testing but valuable learning curve with HDD. What are the most important lessons to come out of the process?

Torsten: Perhaps the most encouraging lesson is that combining innovative digital technology with good, old-fashioned teamwork really makes it possible to keep deliveries contactless from start to finish. The key word is teamwork. And by keeping deliveries 100% contact-free, HDD can open up new opportunities that help our business adapt and thrive by digitizing manual processes. So, yes: we are excited about the changes that HDD is bringing to HAVI's operational processes. It is simple but fantastic and customers love it!

Keeping Things Personal

This case study of life in the next normal demonstrates why it is so important for us all to get involved in the conversation and help build a safe and sustainable future collectively. In this case, combining the personal touch that delivery drivers bring to customer relationships with a digital back-of-house delivery process is a simple yet effective example of how companies like HAVI are working with customers on finding unique ways to solve real-world problems and keep our sector moving forward into beyond the pandemic.
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