In January 2020, people were looking forward to the start of a new year. There was cautiously-worded news about the economy on the media, like predictions of slow growth, but jobs were still being created. Travel plans were made - Airbnb had planned a huge IPO for 2020.
Then, COVID-19 struck the world. Cases of coronavirus - thought then to be flu-like and nonfatal - accelerated sharply after mid-March. By then, President Trump had declared a national emergency. Gatherings of 10 or more people were discouraged.
“In the week of March 15, I stopped working,” says C.K., freelance musician and restaurant industry worker.
Becoming an independent delivery rider dealing with no contact delivery
C.K. had lost his job at fine French restaurant L’Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue, where he had been working for about a year. The retail giant had closed its Manhattan flagship location, and all restaurants and bars in New York were shut down.
Like many workers left without income due to coronavirus closures, C.K. had to file for unemployment and seek other sources of work.
Thankfully, there was a silver lining and C.K. found work as an independent food delivery rider.
“I saw that my friend, Derek Lucci of Make Bistro was doing no contact deliveries to people’s apartments,” C.K. says. “Derek had modified his food business to include deliveries. He roped me in.”
Home-based food business Make Bistro specializes in high-quality Thai food. Since Derek is a home chef, batches are small and deliveries span Brooklyn and Manhattan.
With about 25 drop-off deliveries (and potentially up to 40 at times) to complete and working about eight hours a day, C.K. has hardly any time to lose.
Problems delivery riders face with no contact delivery
The core problem C.K. faces is keeping his customers updated on when he’s arriving with their food. This way, he can just leave food at their door or in the lobby and be gone by the time his customers bring the food inside. “It’s hard for me to answer and be accurate on the go,” C.K. says.
Moreover, in order to provide timely deliveries, figuring out the most optimized route himself before and during deliveries was difficult.
“It was super tedious because I had to write down all the addresses in a giant Google spreadsheet,” says C.K. Based on all the delivery address data, he has to figure out the best routes between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
So, C.K. started looking out for helpful mobile apps. However, some good apps were monetized, which meant independent drivers like him had to pay after just one week of use.
“Other apps try to do too much,” he shares. “They have cluttered user interfaces and too many ads.
“I kept looking and found the RouteBasic free route planner. It didn't cost anything so there wasn't any risk in trying it”
A simple and free delivery route planner
“I thought RouteBasic was the best app and very simple to use,” C.K. says.
To begin, C.K. inputs all the delivery data on the app. With a tap of the button, the delivery route is optimized with estimated time of arrivals (ETAs). This eliminates tedious Google sheets and guess-work.
A seamless interface for driving is essential as well so riders can concentrate on doing no contact deliveries.
“The GPS is just right there, you just hit it. When you make a call, you just slide. It’s so seamless,” says C.K.
The app automatically texts the next customer when C.K. indicates he is on their way by tapping “next order”. The customer then gets C.K.’s GPS location and ETA. This automation is invaluable for riders on the go.
Without a dashboard, doorstep deliveries would be a black box for restaurant owners like untraceable snail mail. Delivery and customer service were both highly reliant on the rider from the moment food left the kitchen.
Now, restaurant owners can see how many orders have been delivered and how many are yet to be completed. As a result, they can also help ensure no contact delivery by managing customer inquiries and providing delivery updates and ETAs.
No contact deliveries are here to stay
With a global pandemic changing how we work and live, door-to-door no contact deliveries are now being rapidly adopted and will be here to stay.
“I don’t even know what the future post-coronavirus looks like. Other places in the US are reopening but I don’t know when things will reopen in New York,” shares C.K.
At least, for independent businesses trying to get started on deliveries, C.K. thinks the app is ideal with its professional and simple to use interface.
“More independent businesses that are struggling now can figure more things out with RouteBasic,” C.K. says. “They might not need Grubhub, but they can have something like this to optimize delivery routes.”