How to Optimize Your Last-Mile Delivery Process
The logistics industry has turned out to be one of the fastest evolving industries of the last decade. The pandemic years in particular have influenced the demand and expectancy rate of deliveries.
The e-commerce market, now more than ever, owns the burden of making simple and fast deliveries that meet consumer demands. In some cases, consumers even expect same-day or next-day delivery.
To keep up with these demands, businesses are saddled with the pressure to ensure constant restructuring of delivery processes. Failure to do so may mean that such businesses will fall back in the race of customer retention and reputation building. For these reasons, it's critical to improve your last-mile delivery process.
Below, we'll take you through the process of efficiently optimizing your last-mile delivery process and giving your customers the positive, timely experiences they desire.
What is Last-mile Delivery?
Also known as last-mile logistics, last-mile delivery is the term that describes the transportation of goods during its last leg - from the distribution hub to the doorstep of the customer.
Last-mile delivery has fast become a major differentiator for e-commerce and retail businesses because of the effect it has on the entire delivery process. Irrespective of the type and size of the goods, the length of the journey to get to the customer, the number of times there's a stop before the final destination, or any other factor, the final mile is the most delicate and important aspect. This is a result of the high possibility of mishaps that can happen during the final lap of delivery; the last mile is often where customer expectations are either adequately met or entirely broken.
Every customer looks forward to having their package delivered on time and in the right place. However, the point where most customer expectations are cut short is the last mile, and this can be extremely frustrating for the customer and business alike.
The Challenges of Last-Mile Delivery
The final mile of the delivery process makes up over 53% of the total shipping costs and can be the most expensive and challenging part of the supply chain to handle.
Here are some of the key challenges of last-mile delivery that will need to be addressed to obtain a customer-centric, sustainable delivery solution:
1. Same-day Deliveries
This is probably the biggest challenge of last-mile deliveries. Offering same-day deliveries can even determine if some customers choose to do business with you or look elsewhere where they can obtain their goods faster. However, the reality is that not all businesses can offer same-day deliveries.
Consider the food industry, for example, where customers expect same-day deliveries of fresh food items that are handled properly throughout the entire process. The logistics of ensuring that timelines are adhered to can be a lot to handle in-house. However, this is an issue that a last-mile delivery partner can effectively handle.
2. Routing Models of the Past
Route planning is a vital area of last-mile delivery, specifically because it converts to cost and time savings for businesses. However, route planning can be challenging for businesses to handle in house, and getting it wrong can lead to higher costs and delayed deliveries.
One major problem that companies have with route planning is the use of outdated models and last-mile technologies. Without the proper technology, the complexities of route planning may be tough to deal with. Manual route planning can take a longer time with lower chances of being efficient.
3. Lack of Visibility
Visibility for final mile delivery is very important. Businesses require real-time visibility for effective communication and delivery to customers. When there's a lack of visibility, it's likely that there will also be a lack of customer satisfaction.
Transparency is an important aspect of the logistics business. Tracking codes are no longer enough - there's the need to use delivery management software that can ensure real-time updates and accurate ETAs. This state-of-the-art software can be expensive for businesses to own, and may therefore require the services of delivery partners in this regard.
4. Inconsistent Service Needs
Many businesses face constant changes in customer demands and supply chain variables. As a result, there's inconsistency with the service demands and delivery process. This can put severe pressure on the supply chain network and the business owners who are keen on customer satisfaction.
The redesigning of last-mile delivery to respond to these changes can pose a lot of costs, time, and dreary processes for in-house logistics teams. Third-party logistics providers are equipped to respond to rising or falling service needs and support businesses in this area.
5. Unpredictable Logistics Processes
The supply chain network is a complicated process; there's weather and traffic congestion, delivery driver and vehicle availability, and resource and infrastructure to deal with at the same time. All of these variables make the logistics process an unpredictable one, which can affect the cost, availability, and delivery schedule of packages.
What are the Consequences of Poor Last-Mile Delivery?
Having a poor last-mile delivery system means that you're not giving your business the opportunity to optimize your distribution strategy, and this can have long-term effects on your business. There are several ways your business can suffer, and some of them include:
- Higher operational costs
As a result of failed deliveries, wrong ETAs, unoptimized route planning, and other factors, there'll be a significant increase in operational costs. Poor last-mile deliveries cost much more.
To reduce the costs incurred by failed deliveries, it’s important to optimize each step of the order fulfillment process, specifically the last mile delivery.
- Poor customer experience and reputation
Last-mile delivery plays an important role in ensuring customer satisfaction. Customers will always have high expectations about the delivery speed, especially the last mile delivery. They don't only expect conducive products, they also expect timely deliveries.
When these expectations aren't met, there's a gap in the customer experience. If you continue to fail in delivering these expectations to your customers, you’ll slowly begin to alienate customers, suffer from lowing repeat purchase rates, and consequently build a poor reputation.
Many shoppers are less likely to return to a business to make another purchase if their last-mile delivery was a bad one. However, you can be assured of customer loyalty and referrals if last-mile delivery expectations are met.
- More cancellations and consequent low sales
Cancellation of orders is likely to happen when customers feel that deliveries are taking much longer than they should. Customers cancel orders when their expectations are about to be cut short. This can be negatively consequential on businesses that this happens to.
Several cancellations over a long range of time will lead to lower sales, as customers that cancel their orders are less likely to return for purchases or recommend your business to anyone else.
How a Last-Mile Delivery Solution Can Help
An optimized last-mile delivery solution can help mitigate the above-mentioned consequences and improve the final leg of the delivery process. An optimized solution should include the following aspects:
- Flexible delivery options
Having just one method of delivery won’t only discourage potential customers, but it'll also restrict the range of services you can offer to them. Introducing a solution that allows you to provide several delivery methods, like same-day and next-day deliveries, will increase your chances of retaining your customers.
- Supply chain visibility
Last-mile delivery solutions help you improve the visibility of your process and build a network of connected suppliers that include last-mile logistics service providers, final consumers, and any other person or system involved in the supply chain. This helps you collect and share delivery data with your network of suppliers and quickly find efficient solutions to delivery problems that may be encountered in the process.
- Order tracking
Last-mile delivery is all about optimal satisfaction for your customers. Order tracking is one of the ways through which your customers can feel like an important part of the delivery process. Real-time tracking gives your customers an outlet to follow the processing, shipping, receipt, and delivery of their orders. It also alerts them if there's any form of delay (or the possibility of one).
- Proof of delivery
One major delivery problem that businesses experience is obtaining proof of delivery. An optimized last-mile delivery solution can help solve this by keeping customers informed through the process and saving you from unnecessary claims of delivery failures or damage.
You can document the delivery process by asking your customers to sign the receipt of delivered goods or taking a photo of a delivered item.
The Benefits of a Dedicated Last-Mile Delivery Solution
A dedicated last-mile delivery solution can offer several benefits for businesses. These solutions can provide faster, more reliable, and more cost-effective delivery to customers. In addition, they can help businesses manage their inventory and shipping processes more effectively.
Here are some additional benefits to consider:
1. Route Planning and Faster Delivery
A dedicated last-mile solution can help you optimize your route planning and reduce your delivery time. You can guarantee that your drivers are taking the most efficient routes possible because a dedicated solution will take into account things like traffic patterns, construction, and weather conditions when planning routes.
This information can be used to avoid delays and ensure that your deliveries are made promptly. This not only saves you time and money but also helps to improve your customer's satisfaction level.
2. Auto Dispatching, Real-Time Package Tracking, and Proof of Delivery
Auto dispatching, real-time package tracking, and proof of delivery are just a few of the benefits that a dedicated last-mile delivery solution can provide. A dedicated last-mile delivery solution can automate many of the tasks associated with last-mile logistics, making it easier and more efficient for you to manage your deliveries.
Automatic dispatching can save businesses time and money, as they reduce the need for manual dispatch of processes. Real-time package tracking can provide businesses with visibility into their deliveries, so they can track their progress and ensure that packages are delivered on time. Proof of delivery can provide businesses with a record of each delivery, which can be used for customer service or quality control purposes.
3. Lowered Personnel Expenses
The cost of hiring, managing, and training delivery personnel is a significant portion of any last-mile delivery business. A dedicated solution can help you lower your in-house last-mile delivery costs by providing a team that is already trained and managed.
This is especially beneficial for small- to medium-sized businesses that may not have the resources to support in-house delivery operations.
4. Reporting and Insights
A dedicated last-mile delivery solution gives you access to reporting and analytics tools that give you a clear overview of your business. You can see how well your drivers are performing, what areas need improvement, and where you can make changes to improve efficiency. This data is invaluable for making informed decisions about your business.
Additionally, a dedicated last-mile delivery solution can provide your business with visibility into the entire delivery process – from the moment an order is placed to the moment it’s delivered – via real-time tracking and reporting. This not only gives you peace of mind that your orders are being delivered as promised but also provides valuable insights into the efficiency of your delivery operations.
5. Agile Scalability
As we touched on earlier, a dedicated last-mile delivery solution offers the agility to scale up or down to meet the varying demands of your customers. By having a partner that is solely focused on providing this type of service, you can be sure that they have the flexibility and resources necessary to respond quickly to changes in demand. This scalability means that you can provide a consistently high level of service to your customers, no matter how large or small their order size may be.
Furthermore, a dedicated solution can allow you to expand your operations into new geographic areas without incurring the high costs associated with traditional last-mile delivery methods. By partnering with a reputable last-mile delivery service provider, you can rest assured that your deliveries will be made on time and in good condition.
6. Enhanced Transparency and Customer Service
A dedicated last-mile delivery solution can offer enhanced traceability and transparency throughout the entire delivery process.
This is beneficial for both businesses and customers alike, as it can help to ensure that deliveries are made on time and that any issues that do arise are quickly resolved.
The world of logistics is changing quickly, and those who prioritize seamless processing and customer satisfaction will be the ones who succeed.
Handling delivery operations from start to finish, especially the final mile delivery, can be a lot to handle as a business owner. An efficient delivery system handles multiple variables like traffic congestion and accidents, construction closures, alternative routes, and customer location.
A dedicated last-mile delivery strategy will ensure that all the services you require are streamlined, the administrative burden on business owners and employees is reduced, and the process is handled by a team that has experience driving positive customer experiences.
At Ziing, we provide matchless last-mile delivery experiences. We offer impeccable automation and full optimization to our customers, leading to a reduction in operational costs and a significant decrease in planning time. We also give businesses the opportunity to achieve the greatest form of productivity through the entire delivery network - from fleet drivers to final customers.
We’ll help you withstand the competition that exists within your industry and remain in the good books of your customers by thoroughly satisfying them with the best last-mile delivery experiences.
Choose Ziing today to improve your route planning, gain real-time insights into your operations, and enhance transparency throughout your entire delivery process.