COVID-19: Your next food delivery can be contactless

You don’t have to see or meet your food delivery guy when you order food but rest assured that food handling security measures in place are topnotch. This was the assurance of two of Oman’s biggest food delivery services in an email interview with Oman Observer.

With all commercial establishments ordered to be shut down and only restaurants and food servicing centers among those provided exemption to operate, Talabat and akeed’s food delivery services are becoming convenient household options and meteoric rise of demand for their service is predicted as COVID-19 measures are becoming more stringent.Isaac Banks, Communications, public affairs and corporate responsibility officer of Talabat, speaking on behalf of the company’s head honchos, said, “We’re going to roll out ‘contactless delivery’ in Oman over the next week. This means that as a customer, you will have the option of having the driver ring your doorbell, place your order by your door (please make sure to have a small table outside!), and they will practice social distancing, to make sure that both our driver and you are safe throughout the order process!”

He added, “We recommend this option, 100 percent of the time.”

Gaurav Nahar, Chief Executive Officer of akeed, said, “Our customers are aware of our online payment options and if they want a contactless delivery, they can mention in the driver instructions that they wanted such option.”Nahar said that once the instructions are placed, the driver will proceed with the process and leave the food parcels on the designated place you instructed them to leave them.Talabat is one of MENA’s biggest ordering platforms boasting more than 10,000 restaurants as their partners. akeed, which was launched in 2018, is the only Omani food delivery app that has grown to a fleet of over 400 driver-captains servicing around 1000 restaurant partners in the country.“We started noticing a surge in our orders and new customers from Sunday, March 15, when the Ministry advised people to stay indoors. We have noticed a 27 percent increase in our orders post the recent statements from Supreme Committee,” akeed head honcho Nahar said.For Talabat, “While we haven’t seen any trends so far, if there is any spike or trough, our operations have been structured in such a way that we will be able to handle the fluctuations in demand,” Banks said.

Banks added,  “It is too early to say anything meaningful on how this impacts our business and the sector overall. We see volumes changing but no spikes or trends so far.”

Food and driver security
“The fear around the virus is of course present, considering the massive spread COVID-19 patients have recorded all over the world but we are trying to educate and inform customers to remain calm and not worry. In all our communication to customers, we are emphasizing and assuring them about how our drivers are using sanitizers, gloves and masks to keep themselves and the customers safe,” Nahar said.

“First and foremost, the safety of our customers, riders and restaurant partners is our number one priority. Throughout the day we are in communication with our riders and they have the ability to directly reach out to us as well. We continue to provide them with safety equipment – for their peace of mind, so that when they are delivering orders, they know they are safe,” Banks said.

Banks added, “For us, we are working with the authorities to see what the new normal is like. In our Oman office, we will be switching to remote working next week, while our drivers will be continuing as per normal – with safety and protective equipment.”

He also said, “Our riders are wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, and they sanitize three times throughout the order process, once before picking up the order, once before dropping off the order, and right after delivery!”

As for akeed’s procedure, Nahar explained, “We have instructed our captains to report to their supervisor if they notice any symptoms of the virus. Also, driver hygiene is something we have always taken on high priority. It is, for this reason, we allow the customers to rate and review the driver so that we can monitor any red flags raised around a driver. A customer can see these ratings the moment the order gets picked up by the driver.”

He added, “We are trying our best to serve the customers and have requested them to stay safe at home. It is for this reason that we are working on a plan to introduce as many free deliveries offer as possible so that people can enjoy their favorite food from the comfort of their homes without feeling the pinch.”

“We really appreciate everything our riders do for our customers, and we know they are working as hard as they can in this current climate to provide the same amazing level of service and keep everyone safe as well!” Banks said.

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