A delivery driver stands outside his vehicle holding a large cardboard box. He is wearing a mask and gloves.
Delivery Experience

What Is No Contact Delivery?

February 5, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses interact with customers. With an increased focus on physical distancing measures, traditional brick and mortar stores have had to pivot toward home delivery in order to keep their doors open.

And with heightened health and hygiene concerns, the demand for no contact delivery has continued to balloon. According to research from Zion and Zion, the demographic that is taking advantage of home delivery the most are the millennials who are reaching their 30s and starting families — a demographic that is opting for convenience and safety as they find themselves short on time. 

But how do home delivery businesses execute no contact delivery successfully? That’s what we’ll explore in today’s article.

By the end of this article, we will answer:

What does no contact delivery mean?

In simplest terms, no contact delivery (also referred to as contactless delivery) means delivering your product or goods to your customer, without physically exchanging the items with them. This can look different depending on the industry — but one of the most common examples is food delivery drivers leaving orders at the doorstep and ringing a doorbell before taking off. 

While the concept is simple, it presents challenges that home delivery businesses are discovering and navigating in real-time. Some of these challenges include:

As a business owner, it is frustrating to deal with mistakes during delivery. Your efficiency takes a hit and the back-and-forth with customers can be wasteful, especially if you have to re-attempt the delivery. Most importantly, your relationship with customers can also be harmed when you are not able to meet customer expectations for smooth, contactless delivery.

Each of these scenarios are pretty common when it comes to contactless delivery.  Luckily, there are several home delivery businesses that have learned how to navigate through these waters, and shared what has been successful for them.

How do you use no contact delivery for your business?

No contact delivery for meal prep businesses

No contact delivery for meal prep

One of the easiest ways to limit physical contact during deliveries is having delivery drivers drop off food by the curbside or doorstep.

Many companies are also more strict about their hygiene protocols and highlight the focus on no contact delivery. Here’s something meal prep company FreshPrep recently sent out to their customers:

Delivery drivers are required to use sanitizer after each delivery; clean any touchpoints in their vehicles with disinfectant wipes; are limited to accessing only the loading bay in our facility; and to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms of illness.

Our delivery drivers are being instructed to practice no-contact delivery. This means they will limit their contact with our customers by only knocking or ringing the bell, then place delivery bags in front of your door.

By communicating with the customer, you are able to set realistic expectations for the home delivery experience. 

No contact delivery for farm to table and grocery businesses

No contact delivery for grocery businesses

The team at Mass Food Delivery use contactless delivery to ensure that their products are delivered safely to their customers. 

“We are trying to do everything completely contactless so we rely heavily on automated email messages letting customers know when to expect their delivery,” said Jill Lively, office manager at Mass Food Delivery.

“Everything is done over the phone or the computers, and our customers have given us the feedback that they love how hands free and easy the entire process has been for them.”

During the pandemic, it is important to meet customers where they are in terms of health and safety. Implementing a system of no contact delivery makes a lot of sense in this respect. 

“There are lots of people who cannot get to the market and do their own shopping,” Lively continued. 

No contact delivery makes it possible to deliver fresh produce right to people’s doorstep.

How do you set up no contact delivery?

A system of no contact delivery takes a bit of planning. Your team needs to be equipped to handle several new scenarios that can pop up, such as having to leave packages in locations that may not be secure, or finding ways to communicate with customers, potentially without ever physically seeing them. For a lot of businesses, this is uncharted territory. 

But the following tools, coupled with route optimization, can help you tackle this last mile problem:

Customer notifications

Communication with your customer is key. Since no contact delivery means there is no physical transfer of goods, your delivery drivers need to be able to communicate with customers about where their order will be dropped off or picked up. 

Automated customer notifications sent from your delivery management software can do the trick. These messages let your customer know when and where to expect their delivery, and they are usually sent via SMS text or email.

Photo capture

While photo capture is traditionally used as an internal feature for route planners and administrators to confirm delivery, it can be super useful in the context of no contact delivery as well. 

Since your drivers are not physically coming in contact with customers, there are several scenarios where drivers may be instructed to leave packages in a specific location, per a customer’s request. The ability to snap a quick photo as proof of delivery can help you communicate with customers when you’ve dropped off their package.

Delivery notes for drivers

With no contact delivery, comes an increased reliance on delivery notes and instructions. Customers might have their own preference on how to receive their package, or where things should be left in terms of safety. 

The ability to leave notes and delivery instructions  helps to avoid any confusion or frustration for your drivers. These notes often have valuable information like gate codes and buzzer numbers, and special instructions detailing when and where to leave packages. 

Driver app

A dedicated driver app is something that can set your team up for success. With no contact delivery, there’s a lot of information that your drivers need at their fingertips. A dedicated app gives drivers access to that information, as well as a ton of convenient features to make deliveries run smoother, such as:

And they can do it all without making contact with the customer.

Will the demand for no contact delivery decline post-pandemic?

As we move toward a post-pandemic world, several industries are seeing a stickiness to the trend of no contact delivery – especially industries that deal with food and produce like meal prep, food delivery, and grocery. Food is very personal for the consumer — it’s taken into the home, consumed, and given to family members. So there is particular attention paid to how it is handled and delivered. 

What is no contact delivery?

The pandemic unlocked what is possible through technology, and consumer behavior has shifted. More and more people are getting comfortable ordering online and are expecting home delivery. According to Statista, the online food delivery segment in the United States is anticipated to grow to $24 billion by 2023. This is an increase from roughly $18 billion in revenue reported in 2019 which represents a significant growth over a short period of time. Online ordering and home delivery are becoming the norm, and businesses need to adapt to that reality.

And even with vaccines starting to be introduced, health and safety measures will likely continue throughout 2021, with delivery businesses continuing to put a focus on protecting their drivers and their customers. This includes a focus on no contact delivery and increased sanitization measures.

For example, Delivered Fresh, an online grocery store that sources its products from local farms, has a sustainable home delivery system with a focus on no contact delivery. They wash and sanitize reusable Rubbermaid bins for their customer orders. 

In order to have contactless deliveries, Delivered Fresh works with their customers. “We ask that our customers leave a cooler outside on their porch to receive deliveries,” explained David Nowacoski, Operations Manager at Delivered Fresh. “When we get to the residence, we transfer the items from our cooler into theirs. If they don’t leave a cooler out for us, we have insulated zippered canvas bags that we leave and charge them $5 for.”

Implementing no contact delivery for your business

If you’ve read this far, you should have learned quite a bit about no contact delivery: its benefits, use cases, and trends moving forward. 

The best way to get started with no contact delivery for your business, or to increase your effectiveness with no contact delivery, is to start using tools that equip your drivers properly.

Route planning and delivery management software allow your delivery teams to have access to the tools they need to make no contact delivery, seamless. Whether it is customer notifications, photo capture or access to a mobile driver app, route planning and delivery management software sets your team up for success in the field.

Routific offers all of these features that help make no contact delivery easier for your business. You can try it out with a 7-day free trial. No credit card required. 

Author portrait

Pam Sykes has a PhD in History and a background in Journalism. She is the Lead Content Strategist at Routific with a focus on delivery management, delivery experience, route planning, and the last-mile industry in general. She has a passion to help delivery businesses scale with her craft of storytelling.