Smartphone Scanning: A Seamless Solution to Verify Deliveries of Age-Restricted Goods

The world-changing events of 2020 forced us all to adopt new ways of running our day to day lives. Covid-19 brought about an unprecedented increase in online shopping and home deliveries that retailers and last mile delivery businesses had to handle. In fact, total online sales growth in the UK rose by 36.6% year-on-year in 2020 – the largest growth seen since 2007, according to data from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

People who were previously reluctant to embrace online technology were left with little or no choice in how to secure their essential household supplies, including age-restricted items like alcohol or cigarettes.

Even when the Covid virus abates, online shopping will remain the retail channel of choice for many. The figures speak for themselves. For instance, in the UK during the period April to June 2020, the Royal Mail  reported a year-on-year increase in parcel volume of 38%  – an additional 117 million more parcels.

Scaling fast, controlling costs and adapting to contactless processes were just some of the operational pivots required by retailers and delivery businesses. Added to that was the complex issue of verifying the age of people receiving deliveries or collecting age-restricted goods.

Surge in online sales demands streamlined age verification process

The boom in online consumerism has unsurprisingly seen a massive increase in orders for age-restricted goods. A notable example is the inclusion of alcohol in grocery orders and food delivery apps.

US figures from the data analytics company Nielson show a growth of 234% in alcohol sales driven by eCommerce during the period March to April 2020. To add to the complications surrounding age verification, there are many items which have different age restrictions in countries and states across the world.

Delivery drivers often request valid age confirmation on the doorstep, or possibly not at all if the recipient is not at home, with goods being left in a prearranged safe place. Age checks create some additional challenges under the current Covid restrictions. Manual processes, compounded with less tech-savvy drivers, are time-consuming, error-prone and fail to capture an audit trail of age verification.

Equally, retailers and last mile enterprises need to make sure they comply with the local legislation, without adversely impacting their KPIs like dwell time (the time spent at each delivery). Delivering goods and capturing the relevant data and identification details must be contactless, whether on a recipient’s door step, at the curbside or at a click-and-collect point.  In short, if age verification is not handled safely, efficiently and quickly it causes delay, negatively impacting on planned delivery schedules and customer satisfaction.

Suppliers and delivery businesses need a flexible, secure and reliable system enabling them to consistently check age compliance without inconveniencing customers or interrupting delivery efficiency. Contactless age verification checks must also be completed and recorded accurately to avoid facing serious legal and financial consequences. Customer experience is important in boosting brand excellence and retaining reputation as a socially responsible supplier.

A simple solution to frictionless age verification processes

Spikes in online alcohol orders already presents major challenges to already strained physical delivery capacity, controlling costs and adhering to contactless processes. Adding new age verification procedures to the delivery process further adds to the difficulties of fulfilling customer online orders. Retailers and last mile enterprises need to make sure they comply with the local legislation, without adversely impacting their KPIs like dwell time (the time spent at each delivery).

There is a simple, accessible, scalable solution for this – leveraging smartphones and computer vision technology on the doorstep or at the point of pick up.  Smartphone apps with ID scanning capabilities can handle age verification, minimize risk and reduce errors in a speedy, safe and compliant way.

Mobile apps empowered with ID scanning software are a viable solution to help streamline age verification and ensure no delivery is received illegally by a minor. You can create a digital audit trail of the age verification to minimize legal exposure, without violating data privacy as no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is stored on the device. It’s simple to deploy ID scanning functionality into any existing mobile app.

Flexibility to cope with increasing demand on a worldwide scale

According to an IPC Global Post Industry Report, the average growth in parcel volumes in Q2 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown was 43%. Some countries have even experienced a staggering 90% increase in parcel volume (Source: Pacific Consulting Group) and many companies are crowdsourcing to meet demand for drivers and delivery personnel.

Scandit brings high-performance ID scanning software into any mobile delivery app, enabling everyday smart devices with a camera to seamlessly validate the customer’s age using different types of identity document. This can be deployed on business-provided smart devices or using a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach where seasonal or temporary contractors can quickly and easily download the app on their own smart devices.

Scandit’s ID scanning software delivers enterprise-grade scanning performance to over 20,000 different types of smart device – so no matter what model your employee uses, it will work perfectly.  Every day 3.5 million delivery drivers around the world use apps on smartphones powered by Scandit Mobile Computer Vision technology.  Not only can you scan the ID or driving license, but when configured according to local laws, the Scandit SDK also makes it clear to the driver if the ID matches the legal age to pick up the item (automatically calculating if the person is 18 or 21 years +).

We can help you identify the right mobile scanning strategy to cope with the evolving challenges in the post-COVID world. Why not check out our online guide or schedule a meeting with one of our experts to discuss how we can help you?