Final Mile Carriers – Are They Making or Breaking Your Customer Experience?
Today we're digging deep into the "final mile" of the delivery process. As the name suggests, it’s the last leg of a logistic race. Those who push through the final mile win the race, and those who cannot, waste months of supply chain efforts.
Have you ever ordered something online and been disappointed by a lackluster delivery experience? Although the item you ordered arrived safely, it arrived later than anticipated. The whole experience leaves a sour taste in your mouth, and don’t order from the company again.
You're not alone. 98% of consumers consider delivery time a critical part of their online shopping experience.
When we say final mile carriers can make or break the customer experience, this is what we mean. Let’s discuss the impact of final mile carriers on customer satisfaction and how to optimize your final mile delivery by working with the right partner.
What are Final Mile Carriers?
Final mile carriers are shipping companies responsible for delivering goods from a transportation hub to the final destination, usually a customer's doorstep. They must navigate traffic, weather, and varying delivery schedules to ensure packages arrive on time and in good condition.
Understanding the Impact of the Final Mile
As online shopping becomes more popular, carriers are handling more packages. E-commerce sales in Canada are expected to reach 75.5 billion in 2023, up from 54.6 billion in 2020. That's a lot of packages to deliver, friends! This forecast represents a significant increase and highlights the importance of final-mile delivery.
The hockey stick growth of e-commerce deliveries brings us to the 'impact' of these deliveries. Final mile deliveries significantly impact a company's operations, customer experience, and environment.
Final mile deliveries can be a make-or-break factor for a company's operational success. The last mile is often the most expensive and time-consuming part of the delivery process, requiring specialized equipment, skilled drivers, and sophisticated tracking and delivery systems.
A company that invests in a high-quality final mile delivery network can set itself apart from competitors, providing faster and more reliable delivery options that lead to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business.
A customer's experience with a last-mile delivery carrier can shape their entire view of the company, regardless of the product quality they've purchased. If a final mile carrier delivers a package late, damaged, or to the wrong address, the customer may not blame the carrier but rather the company they ordered the item from. In most cases, the customer doesn't even know the carrier information; they associate all of it with the company they’re purchasing from. One bad experience can lead to lost business, negative reviews, and reputation damage.
The increasing volume of deliveries has led to a rise in carbon emissions. The transportation sector accounts for around one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, with delivery vehicles significantly contributing. Companies and final-mile delivery carriers must prioritize sustainable practices, such as optimizing delivery routes, using eco-friendly vehicles, and investing in renewable energy sources.
Today's customers are increasingly focused on sustainability, making it all the more important to demonstrate your commitment to the environment. Working with a sustainable logistics provider can show customers that you care about the same things they do, creating value alignment and helping your business stand out.
Selecting a Final Mile Carrier That Delivers
We’ve established the significance of final mile deliveries, but how do you choose a partner that keeps you moving forward? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Look for carriers with a track record of reliability and customer satisfaction. Check out online reviews and ratings to understand how other businesses and customers perceive them.
Driver Training and Development
Does the carrier invest in training programs for its drivers and delivery personnel? Well-trained personnel are more likely to deliver packages with care and efficiency, reducing the chances of negative customer reviews.
Seek a partner that uses technology to optimize delivery routes and provide real-time tracking updates. Technology can help ensure that packages are delivered on time and in good condition.
Customer service is everything. Does the carrier have a friendly and helpful customer service team? If something goes wrong with a delivery, it's important to have a carrier that will work with you to find a solution.
Consider final-mile carriers prioritizing eco-friendly packaging materials, such as recycled or biodegradable options. These practices can help reduce waste and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
Investment in Carbon Offset Programs
Some carriers offer carbon offset programs, which help offset the emissions generated by deliveries by supporting environmental initiatives. Carbon offset programs can be an excellent way to mitigate your environmental impact.
Look for carriers that have achieved certifications for sustainability, such as LEED or ISO 14001 certification. These certifications can demonstrate a carrier's commitment to sustainable practices and ensure they meet industry standards.
Getting it Right at the Finish Line
Beyond partnering with a carrier with a vast network of delivery personnel and using the latest technology to minimize delays, here are other ways to optimize final-mile delivery:
Provide Real-Time Tracking and Delivery Updates
What's worse than a delayed order? A delayed order without any update. One of customers' biggest sources of frustration is the lack of visibility into their delivery status.
Order delayed due to a storm? Update.
Order delayed due to a traffic jam? Update.
Order delayed due to an issue in the supply chain? Update.
Providing real-time tracking and delivery updates can go a long way in alleviating these concerns. To optimize your last-mile delivery and ensure your customer doesn't leave you for your competitor, implement a system that allows customers to track their packages in real time and receive regular updates about the delivery status. This small change can help customers set their expectations right or plan their day better to ensure they’re available to receive the package.
Offer Convenient Delivery Options
Different customers have different preferences when it comes to receiving their packages. Some may prefer to receive it at their doorstep, while others may want to pick it up from a nearby locker or store. For example, leaving packages out at the door in urban areas might not be their preferred choice.
You can improve the last-mile delivery experience and cater to diverse customer needs by offering a range of convenient delivery options. Work with third-party lockers or stores for multiple delivery options to offer customers more flexibility.
Optimize Delivery Routes and Schedules
Real-time data enables you to optimize delivery routes and schedules to ensure timely and efficient deliveries. Doing so can reduce the chances of delays and missed deliveries, improving customer satisfaction.
You can also consider using crowdsourced delivery models, leveraging the services of gig workers to deliver packages, further optimizing the delivery network.
Future Trends in Final Mile Delivery
Technology is moving faster than we could imagine. With the rise of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, the future looks promising for every industry.
Here are some trends we foresee in last-mile delivery:
Drone Delivery to Become Mainstream
With companies like Amazon and UPS experimenting with drone delivery, it will become mainstream soon. Drone delivery offers a unique and exciting customer experience, with packages delivered right to the customer's doorstep. Using drones for deliveries can significantly reduce delivery times, leading to a better customer experience.
Augmented Reality Delivery
With Augmented Reality (AR) technology, customers can use their smartphones or AR glasses to view a 3D model of the package, which can help them better understand its size, shape, and features. The visual modeling of a package can enhance the last-mile delivery experience by allowing customers to visualize the package before it arrives. This technology can benefit larger or more complex packages, such as furniture or electronics. We’ve already started seeing the implementation of it in real estate, where people are taking VR tours of houses instead of going to open houses.
The Rise of Voice-Activated Delivery
With the increased presence of Siri and Alexa, voice-activated delivery could become a future trend in final-mile delivery. Customers could use their voice to track their package or provide delivery instructions, making the process more seamless and hands-free. This capability could also offer a more personalized customer experience, with voice assistants using customer data to provide tailored recommendations and delivery options.
Eco-Friendly Practices Will Become a Necessity
As sustainability becomes a significant concern for consumers, eco-friendly delivery will become more important in final-mile delivery. Companies could use electric or hybrid vehicles, bike couriers, or even autonomous vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint. Eco-friendly practices can offer a competitive advantage by appealing to environmentally conscious customers, which has already started happening in some cases.
Enhance the Final Leg of Your Logistics Journey
Like all customers worldwide, your customers also want prompt, accurate, and hassle-free deliveries. Don’t let delays and mishaps in the final mile cause them frustration and disappointment.
Finding the right partner can seem tough, but it doesn’t have to be. At Ziing, we use innovative tools, a foolproof ecosystem, and a creative mindset to orchestrate responsible delivery at a competitive price.
With us as your new logistics partner, you can:
- Identify the most cost-effective routing and final-mile delivery schedule for your business.
- Seamlessly blend Mindful Mobility Solutions and Mindful Mobility Systems to fit your business needs.
- Reduce your environmental impact and stand out to eco-friendly consumers.
Learn more about our last-mile delivery solutions here.