With tighter safe distancing measures, working from home and tele-commuting, demand for home deliveries, whether for food or groceries, has grown. As such, transport minister Khaw Boon Wan has called for taxi and private hire operators to open up the option for its drivers to provide food delivery services. In a Facebook post, Khaw said that the increase in deliveries has led to difficulty in obtaining a delivery slot across the various online grocery platforms. He added that companies have also observed a dip in the fulfilment rates for online food deliveries. “The demand for home delivery will only increase in the upcoming weeks as we push for more people to work from home,” he explained.
Currently, the Land Transport Authority has a limited trial with Grab to allow its drivers to also deliver goods and food. Andrew Chan, head of transport, Grab Singapore told Marketing that the ride hailing company had launched a GrabExpress Car pilot programme in September 2019 and had requested LTA to extend it until end of June 2020. According to Chan, the programme allows its driver-partners to provide on-demand parcel and food delivery services during off-peak commute hours, and with the extension, up to 15% of its total pool of driver-partners can now benefit from it.
“Thousands of Grab driver-partners have signed up for the programme. They will be able to deliver food and parcels during all hours outside the 7-10am time window on weekdays, and all day on weekends. While the situation remains fluid and uncertain, we will continue to monitor closely and will announce additional forms of support for our partners progressively,” he said. Grab recently also introduced GrabCare- a dedicated, round-the-clock, on-demand service to enable healthcare workers to travel to and from hospitals.
Meanwhile, Gojek too will be extending a hand for this new move. Lien Choong Luen, general manager of Gojek Singapore, said the company is currently exploring the best approach to this situation, which could potentially include a partnership model. “We will continue to work with the Singapore government to find new ways to support our driver-partners during this period,” he added.
In addition, transport minister Khaw also iterated that the government was initially concerned about such on-demand service affecting the traditional passenger service, and contributing to traffic jam. “But this is an unusual time, with reduced demand for point-to-point transport (P2P) and less traffic on the road,” he then added. According to Khaw, this trial will also supplement drivers’ income and help meet increased demand for home delivery.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, food delivery companies too have taken safety measures. Foodpanda recently implemented contactless delivery which comes shortly after the company ventured into delivery service of groceries, flowers and household essentials. When asked by Marketing if foodpanda will be hiring more staff to aid in increased delivery orders, a spokespersons aid it has currently more than 8,000 riders and uses a proprietary dispatch algorithm to manage and anticipate any surge in orders. "[The dispatch algorithm] has a self-learning capability that absorbs surges and with the data, we can then plan for the number of riders we will require to meet demand on any day of the week or at any point during the day," the spokesperson added.
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(Photo courtesy: LTA Facebook page)