Retailers last-mile delivery pain-points

How do you take advantage of the growing eCommerce market when you have limited visibility of the final leg of your shipping process and your tech stack is below par? These are just some of several last-mile delivery pain points that are hurting retailer’s profitability today. This article examines the critical blockers and suggests how retailers can address the issues immediately.

Real-Time Visibility

With multiple touch-points in the process. Real-time visibility has become a key differentiator in the battle to overcome last-mile delivery challenges. Data blind spots impede decision making and are the single most frustrating aspect of the process.

Accessing all your carriers from a single system is the most effective way to unlock blind spots in the last leg of the parcel’s journey. Retailers can take control and make better decisions by integrating all their carriers into a multi-carrier management system.

“Spotting issues before the customer is aware can help elevate your delivery promise. However, this relies on getting access to real-time data”, cites Robin Seymour, SmartConsign CEO.

Post-purchase expectations

Collaboration and communication are further critical challenges for retailers. Failure to anticipate and respond fast when issues arise can add costs to the business. Retailers can empower their customer service teams by giving them access to customer data from one place.

“All too often we see customer service teams having to run multiple applications (both internal OMS and external parcel carrier tracking portals) in order to be able to respond to incoming WISMO calls and messages from disappointed customers” observes Robin Seymour

A system that enables multiple carrier management can help retailers align customers’ delivery expectations with their carrier’s performance.

Legacy Technology

Few retailers can handle growing parcel volumes by using just one carrier. However, adapting a multi-carrier strategy poses some unique challenges. Technology is the solution; however, large enterprises are often plagued with legacy tech that is costly to maintain and upgrade. In comparison, smaller rivals are held back by manual operations.

Shipping Automation

Automation is vital, especially for smaller retailers. Switching from manual processes to a multi-carrier management system allows retailers to scale efficiently. A single dashboard delivers all the functionality, data and services necessary to boost last-mile delivery performance.

Shipping Integration

As for larger retailers and shipping logistics services pained by legacy tech. Integration with an advanced multi-carrier delivery management system is the best solution. By integrating with such platforms, retailers and logistics services can use the systems tech stack without compromising their resources.

Boost Last-Mile Performance

If your package delivery operation relies on more than one carrier get in touch. A multi-carrier management platform is a route to lowering costs, improving visibility and ultimately driving positive customer experiences. 

Freight and the City: The Challenges of Urban Delivery

When you have important packages to get to city customers, you can’t afford to encounter hiccups along the way. After all, your brand — and thus your bottom line — are at stake. Unfortunately, the process of delivering goods in cities is facing some unique challenges.

In this article, we take a look at the challenges of urban delivery vis-a-vis the freight services sector.

City Mobility

Urban mobility challenges are not unique to the UK. Worldwide there are many examples of smart city initiatives.

Some of these initiatives have in the past few years inspired innovations designed to address last-mile logistics challenges. To-date we have observed solutions that have included the use of drones, autonomous and electric vehicles — even robots. However, these initiatives are only as good as the data and route management system that supports them.

“Data from new mobility services must be shared where appropriate to improve choice and the operation of the transport system” Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy 2019

Carrier management systems like SmartConsign have been around for decades. They are designed to help simplify the shipment of goods and improve route planning for businesses of all sizes. The more advanced systems include mobile solutions that enable real-time access to data such as carrier performance.

Urban Warehouses

Integrating SaaS solutions is a necessary step in addressing the many challenges of urban deliveries but it doesn’t stop there. To manage the cost associated with last-mile deliveries certain suppliers are moving their warehouses closer to cities: leading to the rise of urban warehouses.

However, real estate in the city is expensive and mainly accessible to suppliers with big budgets. Yet, urban warehousing is a viable solution. Having facilities that are close to the city means that shippers can advance usage of a wider mix of transport solutions: thereby helping to reduce congestion, noise, and pollution.

But, no matter where a warehouse or distribution center is located the need for speed and efficiency remains a top priority. Systems that provide basic shipping requirements in addition to advance route management can help to do away with manual processes. But they can also provide valuable performance data.

For those at the coalface of last-mile logistics, automation is crucial in the battle to reduce costs and remain competitive. Having the ability to access data in real-time can help improve how you navigate urban deliveries.” Robin Seymour Co-Founder SmartConsign

What the Future Holds for Urban Delivery

In the years ahead, greater collaboration between the freight services sector and cities will be necessary. It is the only way to ensure the infrastructure of our cities works for everyone.

How We Can Help with Urban Delivery

We offer a leading SaaS, solution designed to make the urban delivery of goods easier in the 21st century. Our carrier management system stands out in the industry for being dynamic. It is also technology-driven and easily works with the unique needs of individual businesses.

It’s no wonder why 300-plus companies throughout the UK, such as retailers, carriers, and couriers, utilise our solution.

Get in touch to learn more about how our system can help you simplify your urban delivery operations.

Last Mile Logistics: 4 Ideas to Improve Last Mile Carrier Delivery Performance

Half of all retail sales in the UK will be online within the next ten years. Consumer expectations are also growing as fewer are willing to wait three to five days for their parcel to arrive. As parcel delivery suppliers in the sector know, last-mile courier logistics is the defining battleground for online retailers of all sizes.

By improving your final mile delivery processes, you can meet customer expectations, outperform the competition, and reduce supply chain costs. Helping you become more competitive and profitable. Try these four ideas to improve your last-mile delivery service.

1. Smarter Delivery

Final mile couriers are looking beyond the physical address to help streamline the shipping process. Through GPS data, email addresses, and phone numbers, you can deliver a package to the actual person. With increased tracking accuracy, the courier could pinpoint delivery within a few meters of the consumer’s physical location. These could potentially reduce transit distances and thereby save couriers millions, particularly in rural areas.

Couriers that aren’t ready for this level of optimisation can still benefit from data software such as SmartConsign to optimise their delivery routes. The correct shipping app can determine the best delivery options for all shipments to ensure efficiency in both time and distance.

2. Smart Lockers

There are thousands of parcel collection points across the UK, and the number is only going to rise as online shopping grows.

11,500 Royal Mail Post Offices

5,000 independent shops

These alternative delivery solutions are a centralised delivery location for nearby consumers, particularly in urban areas. Reducing the number of miles the delivery vehicles must travel and thereby reducing overall shipping costs. Parcel lockers also eliminate the failed delivery problem. All parcels go into their cabinet, so they’re ready for the consumer at their availability.

3. Focused on Customer Needs

Improving performance is about improving both your business and customer satisfaction. Consumers care about convenience and cost. Use tracking software like the SmartConsign App to collect data. You can then access this information to identify your most-valued customers. Focus on providing elevated services to these high-volume customers. Increase their shipping conveniences while also reducing their cost. Provide them with real-time last-mile carrier tracking and enhanced cost control features.

By focusing your efforts on these valuable customers, you can get the highest return on investment for your efforts. You may also benefit from positive reviews, which are no longer vanity KPI’s and vital to building brand reputation.

4. Smart Addresses

We already have smartphones, cars, and homes, so why not have intelligent addresses as well? Using an innovative shipping management solution can give you access to a vast database of digitally stored addresses. You can then use this information to ensure every address is correct before the shipment takes place. Helping you optimise your delivery times, route management and reduce the number of failed last-mile delivery attempts.

Bonus Idea: Multi-Carrier Approach

Relying on one carrier for all your parcel deliveries is a major risk. Modern shipping apps helps to make it easier for shippers to access multiple carriers from a single dashboard. You can review carrier performance on final step shipments and get the best rates. Use a system that doesn’t charge carriers a fee to integrate on their system; this ensures the rates you access are unbiased and independent.

Optimise Your Last Mile Logistics

By implementing these last-mile logistics ideas, a logistics business can optimise processes, reduce costs, and rapidly improve the post-purchase customer delivery experience. Using a carrier management system like SmartConsign can help you track your deliveries in real-time, optimise routes, and improve customer satisfaction.

Request a demo of the SmartConsign system and discover how to optimise your last-mile transportation today.

‘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.