Everyone is looking for a better way to manage last mile logistics. Even freight forwarders suffer from limited communications in the last mile. Seasonality, volatility in the markets, rising fees, and other issues affect the profitability in the last mile, requiring more transparency into the costs of final mile logistics. While not necessarily a container, delivery vans can have problems like limited container transparency and capacity. For instance and according to The Boss Magazine, “containers are designed to be used at maximum capacity. If the container is not filled to its maximum capacity, the shipper must handle the cost of the remaining part of the container that is empty. This causes the cost of the goods being transported to increase as they carry the additional cost of the goods that aren’t there. So, if the container is not being utilized to its full capacity, this will increase the cost.” Thus, C-Suite executives need more efficient last mile communications to better oversee the most important stage of logistics.
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Top Problems in Last Mile Communications
Last mile communications continue to suffer from key challenges, especially as people grow more accustomed to innovative last mile services, including debris removal, equipment setup, and tutorials that form the basics of white glove service. Additional challenges in handling last mile communications include:
- Changing customer expectations for last mile delivery, including the ability to deliver to car, within personal homes, and other secure locations.
- Limited use of mobile technology by drivers.
- Fewer drivers available to move freight in the last mile.
- Poor understanding of actual costs of final mile logistics.
- Lack of real-time data for last mile transparency.
- Decreased ability to provide real-time feedback to drivers, which is essential to route optimization efforts as well.
New Technologies Benefit Last Mile Communications
New technologies, particularly those that provide access to data, are paramount in last mile communications and transparency. Analytics, a transportation management system (TMS), integrated accounting and auditing services, and robotic process automation can improve management of the last mile without adding more manual processes to the activity. Moreover, logistics management efficiency requires complete transparency through all operations, including both procurement and the last mile. Of course, any technology must enable shareability of data with supply chain partners and streamline operations.
How to Improve Last Mile Transparency Through More Visibility and Data Shareability
Shippers can improve transparency and visibility in the last mile by taking these steps:
- Take advantage of ELDs to know real-time status of last mile deliveries. Since ELDs are mandated, the data they provide could empower entire archives of information that can leverage analytics to understand more about what does and does not need to happen in the final mile.
- Use IoT-enabled sensors to better track activities beyond simple location data. While IoT-enabled sensors may include ELDs, they also include a host of telematics capabilities, including the application of GPS, Bluetooth, and customer devices to verify and follow up with customers delivery.
- Provide automated alerts for last mile deliveries to supply chain partners and customers. Automated alerts reduce status inquiries and help provide a picture of standard last mile processes.
- Leverage scalable last mile delivery solutions that keep everyone in the know. Scalable solutions rely on the cloud, continuously growing to improve communicability and reduce stress in managing logistics.
- Consider the use of driver apps to better track and manage delivery documentation. Driver apps are another option, empowering drivers to upload proof of delivery and proof of possible delays, further refining the supply chain along the way.
- Increase the physical distribution footprint of your facilities, comparable to Amazon. As explained by Supply Chain Game Changer, “by having their Distribution Centers close to major urban centers they can deliver quickly regardless. All of this is part of a very deliberate strategy on Amazon’s part to get customers to believe that they must have fast delivery. They are basically defining for customers what those customers want. Further their size and scale position Amazon as one of their very, very few companies who can meet those expectations.”
- Improve data shareability with an accessible SaaS-based TMS. The deployment of a SaaS-based TMS provides an immeasurable resource for securing more carriers and avoiding potential disruptions. Furthermore, SaaS capabilities imply an internet-based communications platform, reducing barriers to visibility and more.
Improve Communications in the Last Mile With an Advanced TMS
The TMS is a must-have tool in the modern shipping toolbox. Failure to responsibly manage freight will lead to leaving money on the table, and poor use of carriers and modes will increase costs. Instead of suffering higher freight spend, shippers need to understand the issues of poor last mile communications, why technology improves last mile transparency and the steps necessary to improve data shareability.