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UberEats and Glovo workers wait for McDonald's meals to deliver to their costumers.
UberEats and Glovo workers wait for McDonald's meals to deliver to their costumers.

As the novel coronavirus races its way around the world, we are also witnessing a rush of changes in the delivery industry. No longer just an option, delivery has all but become a necessity during the pandemic, and the sector as a whole has proven itself extremely adaptive. From creative innovations to corporations venturing into new milieus, here is a global tour of how delivery is changing:

Organic growth: While countless businesses great and small are suffering in the pandemic period, others seem naturally suited for these turbulent times:

  • Naturalia, the organic branch of the French food retailer Monoprix, saw its turnover increase by 40% during France"s two-and-a-half-month lockdown phase, the daily Les Échos reports. Naturalia's success is part of a larger trend, according to Daniel Ducrocq, an executive with the data and measurement firm Nielsen. "Drive-up and home delivery have reached historically high levels," he says. There's been a particular increase in the use of such services by older clients, Ducrocq noted. "The challenge for the coming months will be for distributors to keep this newly acquired clientele."

  • In the UK, Amazon Fresh is expanding its offer by proposing free delivery for Amazon Prime members. The company, having experienced booming food sales during the lockdown, wants to cover more areas in the country, according to theGuardian.

  • There's evidence that this fresh approach to procuring fresh food is catching on in Senegal as well. In Dakar, a company called Club Kossam has added fruit and vegetables to its offer (it already delivered dairy products) and doubled its monthly sales as a result. The firm now delivers to nearly 1,300 homes in the Senegalese capital every week, Siècle Digitalreports.

  • The big question, though — and not just in Senegal — is whether the shift in favor of online shopping will last beyond the pandemic. Rapidos, another Senegalese home delivery company that has seen earnings increase of late, isn't convinced. But they're not complaining either. The company's managers, as reported by FranceInfo, attribute the success of online commerce to the coronavirus crisis but also to purchases linked to the month of Ramadan.

Unexpected opportunities: The pandemic didn't just add to the number of people seeking home deliveries, it also increased the number of businesses willing to send their products out, particularly among restaurants.

  • In the UK, some high-end restaurants were loathe to offer takeaway — until the lockdown period, that is. Desperate times, in other words, call for desperate measures. And for takeaway services like Just Eat, that's meant extra revenue. The company's earnings were up 33% in April and May compared to the same period last year, the business publication Investment Trust Insider reports.

Delivery workers on the road in Lima, Peru. — Photo: El Comercio/GDA/ZUMA Wire

Pushing the envelope: In these unprecedented times, some companies are taking things to a whole new level. Whether for the sake of speed or safety, innovation has been the name of the game.

  • Leave it to Japanto really ramp things up on the tech end. With the need for social distancing and contactless delivery options, some Japanese firms are experimenting with delivery robots.

  • Japan Today reports that one autonomous delivery robot called DeliRo will be rolling out onto the streets of Tokyo to deliver Japanese soba noodle dishes directly to nearby customers. "We want to explore what kinds of autonomous delivery services are possible and what the DeliRo can offer at a time when new lifestyles are called for amid the coronavirus outbreak," says a spokesperson for the robot firm ZMP Inc.

  • The Japanese Government is fully on board with increasing autonomous delivery service in hopes that it will alleviate what has been an acute shortage in labor since the start of the pandemic. It may be easier said than done, however, as there are still some legal and logistical issues to iron out with regards to the slow-moving, self-driving machines.

  • Speed is also of the essence in Bengaluru, India, where the Walmart-owned retailer Flipkart has launched a hyperlocal, 90-minute delivery service called Flipkart Quick, Economic Times reports. "With this launch, the company is making its first foray into fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and milk products," the publication explains. "And to do so, Flipkart is working in partnership with Ninjacart, a company specialized in business-to-business fresh produce provisions."

  • The partnership is a prime example of how the coronavirus pandemic has led to faster convergence between online and offline commerce, with traditional businesses now increasingly collaborating with online channels as a long-term strategy to generate demand.

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