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How Last Mile Delivery is Changing Shipping Logistics

July 28, 2020 last mile service

Few retailers actually deliver their own products. Last-mile delivery services carry products from a warehouse directly to customers.

This is where the phrase ‘last mile’ originated. Last-mile delivery has always been the most overlooked part of an e-commerce transaction. A package safely reaching its destination was considered a win.

But companies are now challenged to compete with disruptor brands like Uber and Amazon make delivery part of the customer experience. Here’s an overview of how last-mile delivery is changing shipping logistics.

Customer Service

Shippers can’t just focus on delivery routes and schedules. Last-mile delivery is changing to include customer service.

To remain competitive, shippers should have their eye on customer needs even after a package gets delivered. Following up on the delivery experience to help improve the experience is essential.

Expect to incorporate more data capture like surveys and star ratings in the future. E-commerce is driven by reviews and these reviews often focus on the shipping process.

Collecting data helps you improve your logistics strategy by finding hiccups in your delivery process. Look at customer feedback as a form of quality control to ensure your team is operating efficiently and professionally.  

Reports from customer surveys can also be used to manage customer expectations. Not every problem is a disaster on the shipping side.

A bad review might be the result of a lack of communication in the delivery process or store policy. Finding ways to educate customers on how your shipping process works will cut back on negative experiences. 

Bigger customer issues like lost packages can the symptom of a bigger operational problem. It’s best to catch these problems early before developing a reputation as untrustworthy brand.

Earning Trust

Last-mile delivery is the last line of defense for maintaining customer trust.  Shippers can expect last-mile delivery services to include more delivery visibility to keep customers engaged.

Uber set this trend with its vehicle tracking feature that allows customers to track drivers once they request transportation. Uber customers learn the driver’s name, make of the vehicle and the estimated time of arrival.

Customers now think this form of communication is the norm. A study by Digital Commerce 360 shows that 93 percent of customers want to be informed through every part of the delivery process.

Of the people surveyed, 98 percent said the shipping process is an important part of their brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is the way customers perceive your business.

Repeat customers happen when you offer the best price or discounts. But customers who are loyal to your brand give you repeat business regardless of price. 

Brand loyalists have the perception that your business brand is superior to everyone else. They’ll try more of your products and are less likely to shop around.  

A good last-mile delivery service helps companies create and maintain brand loyalists.

The Last-Mile Delivery Investment

Last-mile delivery services will need more access points to meet delivery demands. A growing trend is for companies to place fulfillment warehouses near urban centers.

This is very important in helping last-mile delivery drivers be more efficient. Long-distance warehouses are usually the result of cheap real estate options but drive up the cost of delivery.

Companies should expect to spend more on warehouse spaces closer to cities where deliveries are needed. Multiple warehouse locations in a metro area will soon become the norm.

The last mile portion of delivery accounts for around 50 percent of supply chain costs in the U.S. This number seems high until you factor in growing e-commerce trends.

Global e-commerce is at around $29 trillion in revenue. To manage this scale of products, last-mile delivery requires an investment. 

Better Data 

Smarter tech required for delivery visibility will offer data that makes last-mile logistics easier to manage. Analytics is the key to a good supply chain operation.

Companies use data from delivery drivers and warehousing teams to find holes in the assembly line process. Logistics managers can cut costs where operations aren’t efficient. 

This means cheaper delivery services in the long run. Analytics won’t create an overnight change in revenue, but give small businesses hope for competing with same-day shipping times down the road.

Better data in last-mile delivery also means fewer lost packages. Sensors in fresh foods and pharmaceuticals track the location of the package keeping it on the driver’s radar.

Managers can use automation to immediately react to damaged goods before customers post bad reviews. Lost packages will reduce with more comprehensive tracking tools that visibility at every delivery stop.

Fast and Furious

More than a quarter of the world’s population shops online. Same day and one-day delivery expectations are making last-mile delivery drivers find more ways to offer immediate order fulfillment.

Last-mile delivery companies will have to be collaborative to help shippers meet goals. The customer’s return experience will depend heavily on drivers who provide pickup services.

The simple act of allowing a customer to use a digital barcode instead of a printed label can make all the difference during a return experience.  

Choosing a Last Mile Delivery Service

Last-mile delivery is all about professionalism and trust. These should be the first qualities you look for when choosing a delivery partner.

Well trained drivers who behave professionally in residential neighborhoods are priceless. The last leg of the race is the most critical in proving to customers that your products are better than the rest. 

Set yourself apart with a strong last-mile delivery partner that builds revenue through brand loyalty. For more information about last-mile delivery services, check our blog for updates.