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There are many steps involved in ensuring the fluidity of our transportation networks, and currently, one of the most inefficient yet crucial steps can be found when zeroing in on last-mile delivery. But what is last-mile delivery, and why is it so important?
Last-mile delivery refers to the final leg of the delivery journey, where the ordered product travels from its warehouse or transportation hub to its ultimate destination. While this seems simple overall, it is estimated that up to 28% of the total cost of delivery is spent on this portion of the job alone, with other reports, such as Business Insider Intelligence estimating this cost at up to 53%. With rising consumer expectations in regards to free shipping, faster shipment times, and more reliable delivery of goods, it is a struggle for many companies to meet what can be considered a rapidly climbing demand.
The world has quickly revolutionized during the Information Age, with technology and its accompanying industries making great leaps in incredibly short timeframes. For example, between 2008-2018 alone, retail sales over the internet increased over fivefold, from 290.4 billion to 1.6 trillion. In 2018, the global last-mile delivery market of 30200 million was forecasted to reach 55200 million by 2025. So how can companies keep up with industry giants like Amazon in maintaining customer satisfaction while also making profit?
Nothing makes us more impatient than waiting for a package, only for it to be stuck on the Out for Delivery update, without ever actually seeing what sort of time expectation that refers to. Companies that can accurately tell their customers where their package is currently and how far away their package is are more likely to be seen as efficient and reliable deliverers. Even if the package is not as close as the customer would like, they may feel a sense of relief or comfort in knowing that they can see where their product is, and can build an expectation of when it will reach them, rather than waiting in ignorance. A transparent delivery process helps the customer feel that they are part of the process.
Another way to drive customer satisfaction with corporate efficiency is to allow the customer to pick specific windows of time in which they would like their products delivered. This method would require an omnichannel fulfillment system and allows the customer to choose exactly when they will be available to receive the product, making them less impatient and increasing the success of first-time delivery.
Delivery service can’t always be perfect. There’s a lot of different cogs that have to work together in the logistics industry, and there’s a lot of different things that can go wrong. That’s why one of the best things a company can offer their customers is an up-to-date communication system that tells them what is happening with their order. Offering SMS/email updates to tell them what cities their package is in, when it arrives at a transportation hub, and when it has to be delayed for whatever reason helps consumers be more understanding of the logistics processes concerning their order. Customers like to be in the know as well, and would likely appreciate being given a heads up when their package has been delayed somewhere.
One of the hurdles faced by last-mile delivery is human inefficiency, and it just can’t be helped. Traffic congestion, porch pirates, and an overflow of delivery orders can all lead to issues in receiving the package, even if it has been delivered on time. When ordering online, many people hesitate to order from new companies without checking to make sure that reviewers can assure them their product has been delivered on time and in good condition. A great way to guarantee delivery satisfaction is to incorporate Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD). EPOD provides more visibility and improves on-site service, ensuring that the customer’s experience is positive and professional.
A bit more of a futuristic route, investing in drone technology removes the hurdle of human error and time expectations altogether. While this may seem an unlikely solution for some, research shows that “over 300 waivers for drone use have been granted to companies like Union Pacfic, BNSF Railway, and Intel.” Research and Markets projects the global drone services market to reach a value of 92.52 billion by 2026. This puts the concept of drone technology at the forefront of what the supply chain industry can expect in the years to come, especially considering the strides in efficiency drones could make in warehouses, construction sites, last-mile delivery, and more.