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‘Contactless’ Delivery Becomes New Normal in Canada Amid COVID-19

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An increasing number of foodservice enterprises and other businesses are going to contactless delivery as a way to have at least some cash flow to pay their bills during these turbulent economic times caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Nova Pizza, which has been in business since 1963 and today has about 150 stores across Ontario, is an example of what many are doing today. It has launched contactless delivery and takeout at all their stores. A Free Delivery promotion was launched as well to keep up with recent, changing consumer demands and expectations.

Customers place their orders online and select Contactless Delivery to follow pre-payment steps. Their Delivery Expert will notify the customer once they arrive at their door, either by ringing the doorbell or buzzer, knocking on the door or via a phone call. The customer’s order will then be placed on a safe surface, on top of a delivery bag, which is placed atop an additional pizza box. The driver will then step back at least six feet away and wait for the customer to accept the order. Contactless Pick-up is also available for those that opt to pick up their own orders.

Domenic Primucci, President of Pizza Nova, said the initiative is important.

“We do have a decrease in sales, big time, drastically. So I think it’s still important to have some sales. We’ve been lucky enough that they deemed us essential service because most restaurants are closed. Because we do delivery and takeout we’re able to continue on with that portion of the business,” said Primucci. “It’s important to have that because it’s cash flow. It’s not that we’re out there making a lot of money especially with the decrease in sales.

“But it’s just to keep things going, in motion. Hopefully when we do get out of this we’re almost a step ahead if you will. It’s hard to start from nothing. The restaurants it’s going to be difficult because they’re starting from nothing. They’re going to have to re-order all the food, get the people in, maybe do some sort of training again before even one customer steps in the door. Who knows how many people are going to step in the door?

“It’s really important to help with the cash flow because bills keep coming in regardless. Okay your food bill will be less but there’s still other bills that are coming in with the fixed costs like the hydro and rent.”

David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec, said while dine in sales are a bigger volume it is still important for many foodservice establishments to step up their takeout and delivery options.

“Of course the losses for the dine-in sales will be tough. In a lot of cases almost impossible to replace but at least this will give them a little bit of working capital, cash flow, retaining employees, and customers don’t break the habit – they can still call to you and they still can come for the takeout (and delivery),” said Lefebvre. “So in terms of business continuing it is paramountly important.”

Lefebvre said more foodservice businesses will undertake enhanced delivery and takeout services for their establishments if they have already been doing it and some businesses who have never done it before have started to do it.

“Of course it’s not going to replace the dine-in sales. But for a few of them it will be a good opportunity to keep your head above water, let the waves pass and be able to still be standing once this is over.”

COVID-19 has pushed more consumers to shift their shopping habits online.

That has led to various businesses adopting the contactless delivery service for customers, including Article, the Vancouver-based online furniture company which delivers across North America.

“The most important thing was ensuring the continuity of the business and to make sure that we were able to continue operating we had to make sure it was safe for both our employees and our customers. If we’re going to help people create beautiful spaces, it’s obviously important that we can still deliver product to them,” said Duncan Blair, director of marketing at Article.

“We see this as a really important part of keeping our team and the broader community safe. So for us it was really important to make sure that we were doing our part to minimize the spread here.”

Items are dropped off at customers’ doorsteps, allowing delivery teams to maintain a six-foot social distance.

“It’s removing all of the physical contact and proximity from the experience,” he said.

AN EXAMPLE OF CONTACTLESS DELIVERY BEING EXECUTED IN CHINA. PHOTO: CBS NEWS

In-room assembly options won’t be available unless specifically requested in advance, in which case necessary health and safety measures will be taken.

“We are able to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis,” added Blair.

Other retailers in Canada are also implementing contactless deliveries such as Michaels Companies Inc., which operates craft stores across the country. Food retailer Nature’s Emporium recently implemented contactless shopping as well as a front-line employee wage boost of $2 per hour.

Recently, Mastercard announced it is enabling the increase of contactless payment limits across Canada, as people look for safer ways to pay in the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The move follows similar announcements made by Mastercard recently to champion contactless limit raises around the world, as health officials recommend social distancing and a growing number of merchants encourage consumers to pay with contactless to minimize interaction.

“Mastercard is proud to have played a leadership role in driving the adoption of contactless payments in Canada and we know that Canadians have embraced it as a preferred way to pay,” said Sasha Krstic, president of Mastercard in Canada, in a news release. “With safety and social distancing top of mind for all Canadians, today’s announcement is one way we’re helping cardholders to shop easily, securely and with more peace of mind during this difficult time.”

Mastercard transactions in Canada are already tapped, said the company. With this change, this contactless adoption is expected to grow even further.

Mastercard said it is currently working with industry partners in Canada to make it easier to accept contactless payment up to $250 CAD. Once implemented by partners, this means that cardholders will be able to purchase more of what they need with the security, speed and touch-free experience of contactless payments at more merchants across Canada.

Mastercard is also reminding merchants that signatures are not required on a receipt or electronic point of sale device for contactless payments, giving consumers comfort, safety and speed at checkout.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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