Of all the phases involved in a supply chain network and the number of steps it takes to move a package from Point A to Point B, the final-mile delivery process is one of the most critical. Disruptions within the final leg of delivery are often the most frustrating for customers and among the most problematic for shippers. And the issue is only growing more scrutinized as e-commerce expands. As highlighted by Logistics Management, “eCommerce represents 10% of online sales and is a major growth engine for many brands. As eCommerce grows and brands must spend more effort on retaining those hard-won customers, the ‘last mile customer experience’ has become critically important.” The pressure on strong last-mile exception management has increased even more, and it’s important to know how technology capabilities can strengthen exception management in the final mile.
Creating the “Experience First” Mindset with Final Mile Tech
Strong delivery experience management makes it easier for retailers to not only define how customers view their experience but also highlights which areas are robust and working well and which areas need improvement. It not only gives them visibility and insights to collect and analyze real-world data correctly, but it also allows them to take action on issues that arise within the final-mile delivery. Addressing delivery expectations and working on delivery issues in real-time makes it easier to collaborate and brainstorm to resolve any supply chain network issues. Ultimately, utilizing technology optimizations that can strengthen final-mile exception management involves the following:
1. Automated Alerts and Push Notifications for Better Communication
2. Dynamic Rerouting and Faster Response to Disruptions and Deviations
3. Data Sharing and Collaboration Between Team Members and Third Parties
Enabling team members with easy access to data and information through a TMS as the single entry for transportation data helps ensure everyone is on the same page and working from current and accurate data. For instance, if a customer is unavailable for delivery and setup of goods, data sharing can ensure everyone knows that another delivery attempt will be needed and they can plan accordingly.
4. Electronic Documentation and Recordkeeping for Faster Sharing and Access
Electronic filing and recordkeeping eliminates the need for cumbersome and unsecure paper for the BOL, POD, freight invoicing, and accounting. The ability to generate, collect, and share electronic documents helps to expedite transaction processing and ensures a smooth and timely delivery with minimal issues during last-mile handoffs. Additionally, electronic documents help delivery drivers maintain all paperwork when exceptions occur, such as a shipment refusal due to damage.
5. Autonomous Logistics and Supply Chain Network Management
Improving final-mile delivery success and reducing disruptions to shipment ETAs often involves the implementation of automated systems and solid management practices. The use of machine learning and robotic process automation can help enhance shipping efficiency to improve all delivery phases. From inventory and warehouse management to capacity procurement and delivery confirmation, autonomous management is a current trend that undoubtedly will continue to gain momentum.
Customers need and demand a fast and easy delivery experience, and the stakes will continue to rise if delivery deadlines and promises cannot be met. According to a survey report from PWC, “In the U.S., even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, 17% after just one bad experience. 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.” So, the pressure to maximize the final-mile delivery services has never hit higher than now