Last-mile delivery refers to the final stage of the delivery process where the package is transported from the last warehouse or distribution centre to the customer’s doorstep. This stage is crucial for customer satisfaction and can significantly impact the overall delivery experience.
Consumers want what they want — and quickly. To keep their business, companies must find new, creative ways to improve their last-mile delivery strategy and meet customer expectations. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have seemingly limitless resources, yet companies must compete with them in order to survive. Many factors can complicate last-mile delivery and getting it right is crucial.
Companies are under constant pressure to meet the expectations of a “need-it-now” society. This urgency, along with the massive growth in e-commerce and online ordering, has placed an even greater emphasis on last-mile delivery: the final and most critical leg for when an order arrives at a customer’s door. The last mile serves as the physical touchpoint with your customers, greatly influencing customer satisfaction and setting customer expectations for future orders. The last mile has become a driver for new efficiencies, and organisations are constantly looking to balance customer satisfaction and delivery optimization, bringing the final leg of delivery into the spotlight.
Here are some strategies for improving efficiency and customer satisfaction in last-mile delivery:
i) Automated route-optimization:
The software is equipped with an advanced route-optimization and planning feature that automatically balances out all the boundary conditions, available resources, and constraints to come up with the most optimal routes. Given the complexity of modern logistics, this is really impossible to achieve manually. Some key variables include:
*Traffic conditions (congestion, bottlenecks, speeds, etc.)
*Weather and road conditions
*Distances to be travelled
*Available fleet vehicles and their capacity
*Available fleet drivers and their skills
*Available employee work hours, scheduled breaks
Logistics managers set their delivery goals, and the software balances out such resources and constraints to arrive at the most efficient routes and provide accurate customer ETAs. This is a forever dynamic process, and logistics teams also refer to historical data and use manual intervention as and when required.
ii) Complete transparency and visibility across last-mile operations:
The experiential part of a shopping experience is always highly valued by the customer. It provides the ‘emotional’ part of a brand’s appeal, and over time, its equity. Just like touching, feeling, and smelling a product while purchasing products in-store, benefits like real-time tracking, live updates, and communication with delivery-drivers is a crucial part of the order-fulfilment process.
It provides customers with transparency and visibility into the delivery process, thereby making them feel that they are in control of their deliveries. This provides them with confidence, makes them feel involved, and creates a sense of feeling valued.
Today’s dispatch software allows customers to monitor their order progress right from the point of dispatch to the point of delivery. Additionally, any changes (e.g., delays due to weather) are communicated in real-time.
iii) Offering enough options to customers:
Consumer surveys have consistently revealed that 50% of them rate choosing delivery windows for their parcels as topmost among their priorities.
Back in the day, customers really had just two delivery choices: Standard and Urgent! Modern conveniences like rescheduled deliveries or same-day deliveries were unheard of! But, led by the E-commerce revolution, such options have now become the norm. Today’s customers demand the conveniences of delivery windows, various methods of payment, re-scheduling deliveries, changing destination addresses – well, the list goes on.
Today’s delivery software enables logistics managers to take into consideration all the variables mentioned above (and then some) to arrive at the most feasible solutions for both the customer and the logistics companies.
Importantly, the software sets realistic targets so that delivery drivers can maintain all protocols (driving safety, shift hours, adequate rest, etc.) and achieve delivery dates that meet customer expectations. Also, since customer-preferred delivery times are factored in, the chances of failed deliveries are greatly reduced. This improves the cost, and efficiency, of the entire delivery operation.
iv) Free shipping:
Well, we all love a free deal, don’t we? For consumers, even with delivery charges falling as much as they have in recent years (consider Amazon Prime’s annual charge that entitles you to free shipping), the offer of “free shipping” is always a winning one!
Consumer surveys have consistently shown that 75% of consumers consider it an all-important factor when they are shopping online. Therefore, as a retailer, you must set yourself up to provide this option to your customers—it greatly increases your chance of attracting new customers and, thereon, the likelihood of creating lifelong customers.
~ For the modern customer, 2-3 day delivery is now the baseline, while 30% of customers now expect Same-day delivery ~
v) Personalise your customer communication:
You only have to listen to customer feedback surveys to realise how important it is to make your customer feel like they are “kept in the loop” during the order fulfilment process. Nearly half of all consumers state that they want real-time updates, and are likely to switch brands if brands don’t make an effort to reach out with ‘personalised communications’.
Imagine this: “Hello Adam! Your parcel will reach you tomorrow between 2 pm and 2:30 pm. See you then!”
Such personalised messages across the last-mile delivery create a huge impact on your customers and go a long way in improving customer experience and, therefore, building customer loyalty.
vi) Reduced delivery times and alternative fulfilment models:
With fast shipping becoming an ever-more important buying consideration for customers, it has necessitated the need for firms to maintain inventory stocks as close to customers as possible. Using modern delivery models such as self-pickups from designated locations and offline stores as micro-warehouses, companies can reduce order fulfilment times. Let’s look at some other popular options:
*Pop-up distribution centres
vii) Using data analytics to understand consumer behaviour:
It would be obvious to say that modern logistics and distribution management are centred on the use of automation, data, and advanced algorithms. Right from optimising routes and delivery schedules to automated dispatch of drivers and parcels, the dispatch software of today is a powerful tool due to its algorithms.
Using modern last-mile software will indicate what your strengths and weaknesses are and identify your customers’ constantly evolving last-mile consumer expectations. With such actionable insight, you could minimise your inefficiencies, serve customers better, and deliver better on customer needs.
How LogixPlatform can help with perfecting last-mile customer engagement
LogixPlatform is a last-mile customer engagement solution that can help you optimise your last-mile delivery customer experience. With solutions that can be tailored to your business needs and that integrate with the tools you already have, LogixPlatform supports innovation leaders in paving the way for a better last-mile experience.
Features like “Track My Delivery” last-mile delivery tracking software fill in the gaps of the customer journey, providing real-time maps and automated notifications that empower customers to take control of their experience. Via a self-service portal, clients have streamlined access to all their last-mile carrier tracking, delivery, and proof of delivery details, and they can opt into automated notifications that are geo-location triggered.