Delivering the UK coronavirus epidemic?
You may have heard that the Coronavirus is taking the UK by storm, devistatingly turning its victims into toilet roll zombies. As tensions rise we are likely to see more home deliveries taking place as consumers avoid physical retail stores to self isolate, but what procedures are in place to minimise risk to delivery drivers and consumers? Without confidence that drivers won’t become sick or spread the virus to consumers there could be a stall in logistics and sales.
With GOV.UK telling self isolating individuals to get delivery services to run errands for them due to Coronavirus, shopping online seems fairly reasonable. Less people will be shopping in physical stores and some online companies are very keen to deliver to self-isolating customers, but is the virus still a risk if home deliveries rise and delivery drivers start knocking on the doors of multiple isolated households in a single day?
“ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you – such as getting groceries, medications or other shopping”
Handheld signature devices will be a potential risk where used multiple times a day. Some delivery services have suspended the use of the devices where customers have informed retailers that they are self-isolating but it is clearly ineffective where poorly publicised. We’re also very much behind some EU countries who ask customers to sign online when items are delivered.
Entering the home:
Delivery drivers entering the homes of those who are self isolating could become a concern. Waitrose ask self-isolating customers to tell them where they want there packages delivered. Having deliveries left at drop off points help minimise transmission risk.
Post Office drop off:
Merchants will probably favour parcel collection options over waiting in line at Post offices. Drop off and pick up points could come in handy in also minimising transmission risk.
Hermes, the consumer delivery specialist are doing their part by having a £1 million pound fund available for its self-employed couriers, to help support them if they need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. They have also pledged to support them in finding someone to deliver on their behalf if they do not have a substitute and guarantee that their rounds. So fear not Merchants, if you’re using Hermes sick delivery drivers shouldn’t be a problem.. unless we all get sick.
A few thoughts…
1, We now know that the virus can live on cardboard and hard surfaces for upto 9 days… So anyone handling parcels could catch it from a parcel. On the same point, an infected packer could pass it on to many parcels!
2, What will hermes do when they have too many parcels and not enough cover? We all know of drivers getting stupid amounts of parcels to deliver in one day after big sale events etc, so with more people shopping online for safety, how will they deal with this with even less drivers?!
3, Speaking to one of my couriers, he said that the issue will slowly unfold, with the first change being next day deliveries becoming 48hr ones, and then as it gets worse so the delivery time will expand, with a possibility of no guaranteed date if things get bad enough. Signed for deliveries could be accepted without signiture ( great for proof of delivery!)
He also pointed out that it is a worry to alot of drivers as many of them are expected to get to cover for their rounds if they are off sick or on holiday, or risk fines etc… What if others are off and no one can cover?
I have yet to see any offical line from delivery companies directed to their customers, and assume they are either waiting to see what happens, or just have no idea what to do! However with how quickly this will take a hold over the coming weeks and month, I think that many businesses will be thinking about it and be wanting to plan ahead. Justa thought… but Royal Mail will be no different!
Will the market places be adapting to this? Delivery metrics etc on ebay are a pain as they are. Maybe ebay will expect us to get proof of the cause of delay for every case and phone it in? After all this is the repsonse to floods and big weather events!
I can see how we are in uncharted waters over the whole thing, and im not confident that the market places and couriers etc will be ready or correct in their response.
Don’t hold your breath for ANY kind of help / response from eBay.
1. “anyone handling parcels could catch it from a parcel. ”
Possibly, but you’re just as likely to catch it off the postie delivering your gas bill (or your conrona safety advisory pamphlet) in that case.
2. “What will hermes do when they have too many parcels and not enough cover?”
Hire more staff. the barrier to entry to being a hermes driver is already remarkably low, they can lower it further due to Corona. “got a car? got a phone? welcome to hermes! you start today.” there will be a lot of self-employed people desperate for a temporary job if things get to that point.
3. “it is a worry to alot of drivers as many of them are expected to get to cover for their rounds if they are off sick… What if others are off and no one can cover?”
There’s a link in this article to the Hermes £1 million fund which answers that question. though i hope this may serve as an eye opener and has “self-employed” hermes employees, among others, demanding fairer working conditions with sick pay etc.
I’m not sure how much of a response is required by the marketplaces, sure i expect ebay will do the usual of promising to protect your DSR’s. but i imagine we’re all going to be affected fairly uniformly in this regard, so if your DSR’s drop, so will everyone else’s, and we’re back on the same level (hah!) playing field.
I for one as a customer am not happy to sign and hold a pod that has possibly been used many times that day especially with coronavirus being about. another method needs to be employed asap
” Waitrose ask self-isolating customers to tell them where they want there packages delivered”. We have a similar process.
I can tell you this is not happening properly, I do this PT and we get msgs on the handsets from many people getting their first delivery saying they are self isolating ( they have not informed anyone), and TBH most people will simply not know they have this and everyone is at risk.
Am not so concerned about myself and fairly fit and young, but I do have older parents, anyone seems to catch this and anyone can spread it. Am not comfortable about being made to go into people’s houses right now (there is some cases however the delivery will never get done unless we do, old disabled etc), and the company concern over this issue is sadly lacking for the welfare of drivers and customers.
“The procedure is supposed to be they phone and tell the call centre, the shopping is then bagged and left on doorstep and no signature is required, you cannot have any booze or swaps etc.
My handset is cleaned AFTER every drop now not just for the customer but myself, I have supplied all my own sanitizer etc, and I think I may have to invest in a good mask. Vans and Crates are being cleaned but nothing is full proof.
They do not know enough about this virus and they are saying it can last on surfaces for several days also, so am afraid I will be taking my own precaution as there is not enough safeguards being put in place or back up from store level.
Deliveries are Very busy and also HEAVY (please chill out with the bottles of water), and we are starting to see a few drivers go off with bad backs as they are being rushed.
My own body is aching in the morning after 25 heavy drops and 8 hours of driving. It is like 6 crates per delivery compared to what was 2 before.
If the drivers go of sick there there is not going to be any deliveries.
Ohhh and PLEASE get proper CLEAR houses signs and CLEAR Numbers the Sat navs are rubbish and give us a general location, and answer your phones ( saying that on behalf of ALL the drivers out there.