‘Last mile’ fatigue? The right software is the best solution

What is the ‘last mile’?

The last mile constitutes that bit of a parcel’s journey that gets it to the customer’s doorstep – or, more usually, gets it into the customer’s hand after a hurried signature on a handheld device. The massive upsurge and continual rise in e-commerce market purchases have meant an equal increase in demand for direct-to-customer deliveries. In addition, these same customers are becoming ever more accustomed to next-day, free-to-return deliveries of whatever they want whenever they order it. The pressure to make delivery and collection fast and convenient is huge – and much of the success of the entire process rests on the success of the ‘last mile’.

Unfortunately, the ‘last mile’ is where many journeys fumble, fail or infuriate which can be damaging to a company’s reputation and can even put potential customers off hitting the ‘buy’ button.

Why is the last mile so problematic?

The biggest problem in the last mile is inefficiency. Anyone who has had to spend a day waiting at home for a delivery that may arrive ‘sometime between 8am and 8pm’, or had to find a printer to print out a sticker to be attached to a parcel to be taken to a drop-off point to wait for a shopkeeper to find the handheld he needs in order to accept the parcel… will know full well that there are many small moments at myriad points along this leg of the journey that can lead to massive inefficiency. Inefficiency, in turn, leads to increase in costs. In fact, last mile delivery costs stand at 53% of the whole – often for a free, next day delivery service.

Examples of inefficiency drivers:

–       high incidence of delivery fails (recipient is not at home)

–       poor route planning due to multiple stops with low drop sizes

–       traffic delays in urban areas

What’s the solution?

Crowdsourcing models are offered as one solution – successfully used already for delivering people (Uber) and food (Deliveroo). Crowdsource technology allows all elements involved in a process – in this case from retailer, through courier, to customer – to stay in touch throughout. Anyone who has lost track of a parcel at the moment it becomes ‘trackable’ and then waited interminably for said parcel to arrive, unannounced, will relate to the appeal here. Another solution is increased automation – drones, delivery robots, and self-driving vehicles can take some of the human error and labour costs out of the equation. Leveraging mobile technology across all these solutions or indeed within the current delivery paradigm would go a long way to alleviate last mile issues too (we go into more detail on this topic here).

Whatever the solution proposition, it must be underpinned by smart software that offers clearer visibility of the parcel’s journey from A-Z and through each of the myriad checkpoints on the way, seamless. SmartConsign is the first true cloud SaaS solution. A carrier management system built from the ground up to create a technology-driven, dynamic operation management service. Customer satisfaction is the result of an efficient, affordable, convenient delivery and returns process and with a bespoke, agile management system we can ensure that you rank with the best.

Mobile Tech in Shipping Logistics – no longer optional

Consumer expectations for parcel delivery have never been higher and continue to rise at a rapid rate. Our modern lifestyle revolves around convenience and most of us have become accustomed to getting what we want when we want it – not to mention being able to return it with ease when we don’t…  With 57% of domestic parcel deliveries being for next-day, shipping logistics services who don’t offer a speedy service, make themselves obsolete.

In order to ensure that your brand stays relevant, it is vital that you choose a tech solution that provides both speed of service and convenience of access to customers. This means clear, easy ordering facilities as well as smooth-processing options for both home delivery and click and collect. At point-of-purchase, a consumer will think nothing of stopping short of placing an order if the delivery option doesn’t live up to the (very high) expectations of immediacy or near-immediacy.

Customers want equally convenient choices at every point

Mobile tech is perfectly suited to this consumer landscape, with over 5 billion global smartphone users and, in the UK, a generation of consumers who take online shopping with the option for 24-hour delivery turnaround for granted – utilising mobile tech capabilities is an absolute essential for any logistics company who wants to stay competitive.

Providing consumers with options like home delivery or click and collect has been the most recent disruption to the industry. Never a more frustrated consumer than the one who has to wait all day for a delivery that is due to arrive “between 8 am and 8 pm”. Consumers have made their preference clear with 49% choosing click and collect and with half doing so to avoid delivery charges while the other half find it to be more convenient than home delivery. Mobile tech allows you to stay in touch with your customer, particularly in the last-mile period, the challenges of which are generally accepted to be able to make or break a brand.

The future is wholly mobile

In 2019, that’s just next year, the moon will get its first mobile phone network as part of a project between Nokia and Audi and later this year 12 US cities will be first to receive 5G mobile internet. Also, this year 4 million GM vehicles will be equipped with in-dash e-commerce tech. The future is very clear, very powerfully mobile-centric and must be a part of logistic providers immediate future plans. Until now financial limitations have been a major deterrent for smaller providers to embrace mobile but staying connected to your customers right from point A to Z – something big brands with big money do so well – is no longer just for the main players, mobile tech is becoming affordable and mainstream, opening up the market potential for small brands with commitment to win over customers with consistent, good service. Collaboration and integration are key, parcel delivery software like SmartConsign are constantly evolving their technology with smart mobile solutions coming soon.

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