By: Rudy Tahmizian
E-commerce is booming and the last mile is taking the force of the impact’ according to a 2018 study conducted by Eye for Transport researchers. E-commerce has become quite a high growth industry, with demand for last mile services increasing by 50% in the last 18 months. As online consumer demand becomes more standardized across markets, companies in the retail and logistics sectors are compelled to adapt to meet the fulfillment demands of their individual consumers. The customer expectation to be met now is “what do I want and when do I want it’. We are in an age of adapting to the individual. Consumers are still demanding more, and retailers are increasingly focusing on the customer experience over the last mile. Inevitably, as consumers demand more some unforeseen disruption or disappointments may arise.
How quickly do you analyze the issues or risks followed by corrective action, within your team, when unexpected disruptions arise? Delays in diagnosing problems and finding a prompt solution would most likely result in financial losses.
- As more shoppers switch to online shopping, retailers’ control on managing the customer experience is being minimized.
- Inefficient routes, inefficient transportation technology, etc, all can negatively affect the process flow, resulting in higher costs than planned.
Companies are faced with constant challenges to save, while carrier costs increase each year. Efforts to maintain an established level of savings can be problematic even in the most ideal situations. Recent data from Eye For Transportation indicated the following:
- Over 60% of consumers want greater flexibility for deliveries
- More than 50% 0f customers want faster deliveries
- 51% want full real time visibility
These are issues that can keep you up at night. The impression made on the end user/customer is the most important element of the last mile. It is the moment that matters. It is the very last step that is the most crucial, as well as the most problematic of all.
How Do We Find A Fix?
As a start, a good approach can be to work with all of your stakeholders – IT, Operations, Billing, Traffic and even the sales team to enable intelligent decisions that will offer optimal outcomes.
Equally important is the communication between the customer and the delivery person. A seamless delivery experience helps streamline efficiency and cut costs. Trust based flexibility is a pertinent element in the last mile delivery, especially in dealing with customer inquiries regarding their delivery, and requests about how it should be delivered (“don’t ring the door bell,” for example).
Creating a seamless delivery process also requires technology that facilitates real time communication between the customer and the delivery person. This includes full visibility over their deliveries, which lessens the chance of service issues.
Delivery standards need to advance to meet increasing consumer expectations, however, efficiency and planning go a long way to reduce the effect of last mile delivery costs.
Install tools that allow automation, personalization, and greater visibility which will be strategic in achieving customer expectations.
- Research studies show that only 35 percent of shippers use a transportation management system (TMS). Therefore supply chain stakeholders must work together to improve efficiencies. Creating efficiencies throughout the supply chain produces lower costs during the last-mile
In general, people know problems may arise sometimes. They just want to be informed in a timely manner and they want the facts. In other words, consumers want transparency. They want to be able to see where the driver is and when the delivery will be done. With the speed of progress in the digital age, real time visibility is an expectation with all last mile delivery services. As carrier costs increase, retailers continue to be challenged to save money. The effort made to achieve savings, or sometimes even safeguard costs can be risky, in even the most protected supply chains without the right tools. A significant percentage of shippers still do not use a transportation management system (TMS). Without such vital technology, shippers are in essence, neglecting shipment transparency, carrier cost and service comparisons. Businesses and 3PLs that are transparent and deliver the experience to the end consumer to meet their expectations will be the winners in the long game.