FOOD and grocery delivery services are stretched thin as demand has spiked since the movement control order (MCO) took effect on March 18.
People are forced to cook, arrange for food takeaways or order through delivery services.
The situation is made worse with many riders and drivers choosing to stay home, fearing for their safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
StarMetro spoke to a few delivery service providers to find out how they were coping to-date and what initiatives had been put in place to keep all their staff safe.
Domino’s Pizza Malaysia said it experienced a 50% increase in delivery orders while takeaway orders from the stores had reduced since the start of the MCO.
However, the company stated that it could still cope with its existing riders and workforce and there was no need to recruit additional riders at the moment.
“We are among the first organisations to implement a mandatory zero-contact delivery standard operating procedure (SOP) on March 21, which ensures the practice of social distancing during every delivery.
“This also means that all customers are required to make payments online and so far, our customers have been appreciative of this initiative, ” said chief executive officer Shamsul Amree.
Apart from that, he said delivery riders undergo strict food handling and sanitation training to ensure a high level of discipline and accountability when carrying out duties.
He assured that their delivery bags were sanitised after each delivery, in addition to frequent hand cleaning and sanitisation before and after each delivery.
“Our riders are also provided with hand sanitisers and it is compulsory for them to carry it with them at all times, ” he said.
Domino’s also practises timed sanitisation of items used in the kitchen and the whole outlet including all store employees besides delivery riders.
According to Shamsul, kitchen staff are required to wash their hands with antibacterial soap frequently and are reminded to do so by a timed alarm, while all surfaces which come into contact with food are sanitised every hour.
“Cashiers also sanitise hands after handling cash from each customer who pick up their takeaway order at the shop.
All customer contact points including door handles, counter, chairs, hand basins and faucets are sanitised hourly, ” he added.
Online delivery company foodpanda keeps a constant check on its riders through its rider web portal which is updated with the latest measures and hygiene practices, foodpanda Malaysia managing director Sayantan Das said.
“All riders have been briefed to use hand sanitiser, wear a mask and wash their hands whenever possible.
“We have provided our riders with face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers.
“Ensuring the wellbeing of our riders and customers was one of the challenges we faced initially and to address it, we introduced contactless delivery to ensure our riders and customers practise social distancing, ” he said.
To have a contactless delivery, customers can inform the rider via the chat function on the foodpanda app and the food will be placed at the designated drop-off spot.
The rider will then notify the customer when the food is delivered and wait for the customer to verify, all the while maintaining a one-metre distance.
With the increasing number of deliveries during the MCO, Sayantan said foodpanda was looking to recruit more riders.
Over at Burger King, its management revealed that the fastfood chain saw an increase of 2.5 times in delivery sales since the start of the restriction order. It uses external delivery services.
Cosmo Restaurants Sdn Bhd marketing head Goh Yin Yin said that given the circumstances and spike in orders on the first day, there were insufficient riders and that resulted in longer waiting time which ultimately led to cancellation of the food orders.
She said the restaurants adhered to the health, hygiene and social distancing procedures recommended by Health Ministry.
“All at Burger King, including customers buying takeaways, must keep a safe distance of one metre apart and its staff have also been instructed to wash their hands often.
‘These procedures are extended to the riders, where they are made to sanitise hands before collecting food and to keep a one-metre distance from the counter staff when collecting food for delivery, ” she added.
For McDonald’s Malaysia, its McDelivery and drive-thru services increased by 19% since the start of the restriction order.
McDonald’s Malaysia vice-president and chief marketing officer Melati Abdul Hai said the management had taken measures to ensure the number of riders were sufficient to meet demand.
“At this time, we prioritise the safety and health of our crew and customers.
She said McDelivery riders and riders from other delivery services undergo stringent security measures when waiting, packing and delivering food to customers.
“We have separated pick-up points for McDelivery service riders and those from external delivery services.
“While waiting for food to be prepared, riders are also made to practise social distancing by following the markers we made for each waiting spot in our restaurant, ” she said.
Also, each rider must undergo a temperature check outside the restaurant and an employee is assigned to sanitise and clean the delivery bags of each rider before food is loaded into the bag.
Melati said takeaway bags were sealed, with the rider’s and crew’s temperature readings displayed on the bag
“A rider will contact the customer once they have arrived at delivery spot and drop off food at a mutually agreed safe spot.
“The rider will stand at least one-metre away from customer to minimise contact, ” she said.
She highlighted that only cashless payments would be accepted for orders made through the McDelivery service, adding that customers ordering takeaway were also encouraged to adopt cashless payments in line with stepping up efforts to minimise physical contact between our staff and the public.All KFC and Pizza Hut outlets are taking extra measures to ensure the health and safety of its staff and customers by also having the contactless delivery option.
QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd managing director Nehchal Khanna said this allowed customers to transact in an entirely contact-free manner, reducing the risk of virus spreading.
“We have enhanced our stringent food safety and hygiene standards by increasing frequency of cleaning and sanitising as well as disinfecting high touch-point surfaces. We also conduct health checks and provide hand sanitisers to the team, ” added Nehchal.
Lalamove Malaysia managing director Shen Ong said despite offering additional incentive to cope with the increase in orders, not many drivers and riders want to work.
“The most difficult at the moment is getting the grocery items ordered by customers, because the queues are very long at the stores and many items are out of stock. It is frustrating for both our staff and customers, “ he said.
“We have 110% increase in new users. I hope they will be patient and understand the delays as our staff are putting themselves at risk by continuing to work. It is difficult to achieve our targeted delivery time but we do our best.”Ong said most riders had been supplied with surgical face masks and hand sanitisers but the company could not get enough for everyone because of shortage of those items in the shops.
“The riders are advised to take all precautionary measures of avoiding physical contact and not committing themselves to work if they feel unwell, “ he said.
“They are also encouraged to clean their bags frequently and we provide that service at our headquarters too.
HappyFresh Malaysia managing director Hu Hun Hui said the company had restructured its shopping operations with the help of on-demand companies to assist them daily.
“Operations have become more challenging under the restriction order.
“Aside from voluntary attendance, we are ensuring our shoppers and riders who choose to work during these times are equipped with face masks, hand sanitisers and sterilising sprays whilst briefed on new protocols to ensure they remain protected and healthy.
“We take the initiative to check on them daily to ensure they are fit to carry out their duties and have specialised Covid-19 insurance.“We are unable to achieve our targeted delivery time as a result of long queues at the supermarkets and out-of-stock items. However, our shoppers are well trained to pick up alternatives if available.
“We received a lot of backlash for our delays but are grateful for those who understand our situation and reschedule delivery for later.
“We work closely with our store partners who are giving special lanes for our checkouts. Our technical team is also on standby to address technology glitches 24/7, ” he said.
Hu said the company practised contactless delivery in replacing cash-on-delivery as an additional safety step.
“We firmly stress to employees that the delivery bags used are to be kept in clean and pristine conditions at all times.
“We have distributed disinfectants for our riders to wipe their bags and motorcycles, “ he said.
He added that the cancellation rate by riders was high and hoped that the customers would remain calm and purchase responsibly.
Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh said in a press statement that the company had deployed tens of thousands of ride-hailing drivers nationwide to provide reliable delivery under its GrabFood and GrabMart services during the MCO.
“The steep drop in the need for ride-hailing meant we needed to create new opportunities for our driver-partners.
“Do spare a thought for the neighbourhood businesses and delivery-partners as they continue to work to make this MCO period a bit more bearable, “ he said.
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