How Retailers and Pharmacies are Utilizing Contactless and Curbside Pickup During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Aila Staff

March 27, 2020

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, all locales across the country have deemed supermarkets , big-box stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and healthcare operations as essential and to remain open to the public. 

As the response to COVID-19 evolves, these essential businesses have bolstered their ability to serve customers in safe ways while practicing social distancing. 

Retailers and grocers are turning to curbside pickup and in-store pickup, as well as home delivery to meet shoppers’ needs during the crisis. While healthcare providers are utilizing drive-through testing and virtual visits.

Grocers hire thousands to support overwhelmed delivery programs

Stores that provide groceries like Amazon/Wholefoods, Walmart, and Instacart are rapidly hiring to support the increased demand for grocery pickup and delivery as goverments across the globe mandate stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Instacart plans to hire 300,000 new shoppers for its delivery service, and Amazon and Walmart are adding 100,000 and 150,000 new employees respectively. 

The hiring wave comes as grocers and grocery pickup and delivery providers struggle to keep up with demand. Users across the nation are finding it harder and harder to secure a delivery time. 

Amazon food delivery coronavirus covid-19 whole foods market
Image: Amazon/Whole Foods Market Delivery page

Coinciding with the influx in grocery delivery requests is an uptick in the number of daily app downloads for the major grocery pickup/delivery providers: 

Instacart – 218% increase in daily downloads

Walmart Grocery – 160%

Shipt – 124% 

Curbside pickup presents an alternative to overwhelmed delivery options

While grocery and restaurant delivery is an ideal solution for consumers who find themselves confined to their homes, sometimes waiting several days or weeks isn’t an option when it comes to obtaining household essentials. 

Stores that are limiting the number of customers in their aisles and at checkout lines, or who are closing stores to shoppers altogether, are still staying open to provide pickup services.

For those of us who are scrambling to set up at-home work stations, places like Best Buy are often the most reliable source for cables, routers, and peripherals that are essential to effectively work remotely. 

Best Buy recently announced that it would adapt its already far-reaching curbside pickup service into a “contactless” way for people to acquire items they might need.

With this approach, customers won’t have to leave their vehicles to get the items they purchased online: “Let us know when you arrive, and we’ll bring your items to you. Just pop the trunk and you’re on your way.”

Retailers and restaurants going curbside and contactless

U.S. News is maintaining a list of stores and restaurants that are staying open for in-store, curbside, or drive-through pickup (note that the list will vary by location and is likely to change as the COVID-19 response evolves). 

Among the retailers and restaurants providing the service as of this writing: 

  • Applebee’s
  • Chili’s
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • DSW
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Target
  • Walmart

Drive-through and virtual visits lessen the burden on healthcare providers and pharmacies

To minimize exposure of patients and providers to the coronavirus, many testing facilities have started offering drive-through testing (incomplete list here). 

Drive-through testing has the same benefits as curbside pickup for retailers, except that the level of concern is greatly increased for patients who are showing symptoms and the level of risk rises for healthcare providers who come into close proximity with those patients. 

One Wall Street Journal reporter who underwent a COVID-19 test compared the process to driving through a McDonald’s or a Starbucks. Watch the drive-through test here

For healthy people who just need to get a prescription or a specialist’s opinion, virtual visits or “Telehealth” is filling an important role.  Patients are able to get the information or medication they need without putting themselves or others at risk by waiting in line or in the waiting room of their pharmacy or doctor’s office. 

Scanning technology is also filling a gap by allowing customers to scan barcodes from their phones at self-service kiosk stations in order to pick up their orders. 

Effortless data capture of IDs, and OCR are also making it possible for healthcare facilities to offer their patients a touchless check-in experience

Paitents can complete the following workflows without having to interact with office staff: 

  • Scan a QR code from a PreCheck app to check-in automatically
  • Scan their ID and insurance card during their visit 
  • Make payments right from the kiosk

Here at Aila, we’re committed to helping those essential businesses continue to operate in a manner that can help reduce the transmission of the virus through enabling self-service workflows with our scanning technology. We’re here for you if you would like to learn more.

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