24 March 2020
We hope that you, your family and your
employees are safe and well. This is not an easy time for any of us and we know
that you will be adjusting to a different way of living and working.
Much like yourselves, we're closely following
the impact that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on our communities and the
businesses within them.
We understand that many of you will be
experiencing new and unexpected challenges during this difficult time and we're
committed to providing you with as much support as possible in this period of
uncertainty. Our EPOD systems support the food and fuel delivery
supply chains. Our access control and CCTV systems provide security and
enhanced wellbeing for workers within institutions such as hospitals, care
homes and educational establishments. We consider it our responsibility to
maintain support of these customers.
appreciate that surviving this crisis is paramount for individuals and
businesses and we consider it inappropriate to promote the business benefits of
our products & solutions at this time. The business community will recover
in time and you can be assured we’ll be marketing the virtues of our solutions
when it does! In the interim, whenever possible, we will focus on providing
pragmatic advice on how to push back against this terrible virus and its
Devising ‘Drop and Go’ logistics for Covid-19
– top 5 questions to ask
What constitutes drop and go and why do it? Drop
and Go protects your drivers and the people they are delivering to. It
maintains the recommended 2 metre social distance. There are a couple of
practical aspects to this. If the person receiving the parcel is at home then a
ring of the doorbell, putting the parcel at the threshold and then standing
back 2 metres will be a straightforward drop off situation.
But if someone is really unwell then you might
not see anyone at the door. In these cases, you are going to be leaving the
parcel in a safe place. You may need to be clear about what is a safe place in
your communications – will you make exceptions at the moment?
Also, you may find you can’t – or decide you
shouldn’t – leave parcels with a neighbour. In this instance it’s important to
amend the options people have when they place an order to include ‘self
You should also look at how you can provide a fast and easy way
online or via an automated phone line / text service to tell you something has
changed ie they are now in self isolation, so you don’t get overloaded by calls
requesting changes to delivery instructions, or panic notes stuck to front
How can technology help? This
is where it’s good to have adaptable software in use. Can the interface the
customer sees when making a purchase, or revisiting an order, be adapted with a
pop-up message to explain the new drop and go policy? If it can, can it also be
adapted to include specific ‘self-isolation’ messaging so that orders are
flagged to drivers. If so, how will this translate to the devices the delivery
teams use. How will they receive notification – is it just before they deliver
via the handheld device, or will they get a summary of the schedule changes
before they leave the warehouse?
There are pros and cons to both. The first
allows for up to the minute changes but means there could be surprises. The
second means the schedule can be planned without too much change, but it also
means there’s possibly no room for notifying the driver of late changes bar a
phone call. And as we know, taking a phone call while driving isn’t a good
What’s proof of delivery?
Firstly, work with your business / customers to understand what proof of
delivery is needed for insurance and to ensure customer service teams aren’t
hit any harder than they already are.
Then consider the process for recording a
delivery. What are the capabilities of the handheld devices the delivery teams
use? Will a scanned barcode on point of delivery suffice for a confirmation? Will
a date and time stamp be sufficient, or is photographic evidence needed for
instance? If it’s the latter, you may need to look at how your system files
these images and where they are stored so they can be easily retrieved and are
GDPR compliant. Ideally they should be automatically associated with the order
How will this affect the scheduling?
You may be thinking that if there isn’t the interaction at the doorstep then
schedules will be shorter. However, there will now be a question of welfare to
factor in. For example, where will delivery drivers go to wash their hands and
use a toilet if shops, café’s and restaurants are closed? Will they come back
to the depot more frequently, will they have to go home?
Finally, it’s possible that staff will be
forced to self-isolate at some point, so some schedules may become longer as
members of the team pick up more of the work. This too could affect the routes
you plot and the time it takes to get the rounds done.
What are the other safety requirements this
approach needs? There are plenty of questions that
need to be answered and it is worth getting a health and safety specialist
involved to help. Among the questions to ask when you define the new process
- Do your teams need protective clothing
and masks, disposable gloves, access to sanitisers for hands and steering
- Are vans cleaned before a shift
changeover, and who does this?
- How are packages handled so that risk
of a virus staying on a surface is minimised?
- How will you clean devices that are
used to track deliveries?
Covid-19 is testing the resilience and adaptability
of everyone and every business. We are all in the same boat. Managing the
situation needs some careful thought. That can be hard to do when things are
moving at such a fast pace. So, speaking to an expert and learning from the
experiences of other companies like yours can help everyone maintain delivery
standards and keep people safe.
Even during these difficult times, you’ve still got a business to run
and ongoing costs to meet. At the time of writing, to help with this the UKGovernment has announced that it will offer a 100% Business Rates retail
discount for companies whose property’s rateable value is less than £51,000.
Businesses that pay little to no rates may also receive a £3,000 grant,
provided they’re currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) or
Rural Rates Relief.
In addition to this, the government will soon be launching a new ‘Business
Interruption Loan Scheme’ that will support small and medium-sized businesses
that need access to bank lending and overdraft services.
If, however, you’re facing immediate cashflow issues, you may be able to delay your tax payments to HMRC by calling their helpline on 0800 015 559.
Alternatively, you could get in touch with the Small Business Commissioner, an
independent office dedicated to assisting small businesses affected by late or
unfair payment issues.
It’s also worth checking to see if you’re covered by your business insurance –
especially if you’ve purchased supply chain or denial of access cover – since
the Chancellor has confirmed that the government’s advice is sufficient for
businesses to make a claim, where they have appropriate interruption cover for
pandemics in place.
As always, you should stay on top of the latest information and advice for
businesses on the government’s gov.uk website and the latest health guidancefrom the NHS and World Health Organisation.