Final mile and last mile both referred to the final stage of delivery, and the use of last mile in e-commerce can mean the difference between a positive customer experience and a return. Simply not delivering a package on time will dramatically increase the rate of returns, and poor last mile in e-commerce delivery can contribute to increasing logistics costs. The best-laid plans for e-commerce shipping will fail when shippers do not consider this final, vital leg of the journey, and those that do take the time to understand its challenges and focus on last mile delivery can excel in e-commerce, and deliver more freight to consumers, boosting profitability.
Shippers Lose Sight of Last-Mile in E-Commerce
In the world of digital supply chains, it is easy to lose sight of last mile in e-commerce delivery. Shippers are so focused on moving product closer to consumers, and fulfilling e-commerce demands that they overlook the most important like the journey, getting it to consumers. Moreover, limitations of available drivers and capacity have pushed major retailers and supply chain entities to consider alternative last mile delivery options. Even Walmart has experienced major problems in staying competitive with Amazon, testing out new last-mile services, reports Nandita Bose of CNBC. As explained by Strategy-Business.com, challenges in last-mile in e-commerce include:
- Infrastructure for supply chains was designed for long-distance, intercity shipping.
- Sudden demand changes affect last-mile in e-commerce.
- Carriers face growing pressure, resulting in offloading to other carriers.
- Contract negotiations are ripe for revenue gains.
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A Strong Focus on Last-Mile in E-Commerce Will Drive Customer Service
The need for better efficacy and cost management in last-mile in e-commerce means thinking outside the box for how to move more packages and stay competitive, explains Roberto Michel via Supply Chain 24/7. An effective last-mile strategy must consider the following:
- Disruptions and other ways to take advantage of new services. The Uberization of last-mile will become a significant factor in meeting the e-commerce surge, reports John D. Schultz of Logistics Management.
- Possible solutions to eliminate labor-intense processes, like paperwork. Eliminating labor-intensive processes within the last mile in e-commerce journey can result in faster delivery. Essentially, drivers have less paperwork in menial tasks to worry about, so they can focus on delivering products, not filling out link forms and obtaining delivery confirmation. Blockchain technology may be the best solution to this issue.
- Diverse last-mile delivery activities, maintaining flexibility and scalability. Shippers need to maintain a high level of flexibility and scalability, and last mile delivery activities. Last mile delivery is the most deconsolidated form of any shipping strategy, implying it is multiple deliveries at numerous locations. Maintaining flexibility and scalability of last mile delivery activities will allow for the rapid accommodation of changes in e-commerce shipping demand.
- Enhanced use of sustainable practices, building brand value along the way. Success in last mile in e-commerce also goes back to the use of sustainable practices throughout the entire supply chain. Reducing fuel consumption, leveraging new technology to optimize routes, and speeding transportation will have the net effect of lowering logistics costs. For last mile in e-commerce, this means more resources available to ensure the proper, timely delivery of a product to the customer’s doorstep, work location, or store for pickup.
How to Improve Last-Mile in E-Commerce Practices
Identifying the ways to improve last mile in e-commerce is back to understanding the solutions and how to apply them to e-commerce demand. As explained by Cassandra Gaines of TruckingInfo.com, shippers need to take a few steps to improve last-mile in e-commerce to get freight to B2B customers and end-users, regardless of the break-neck growth of the industry. Some of these include:
- Remember to think about the details regarding freight claims’ processes.
- Determine liability.
- Think about the returns process.
- Don’t throw in the kitchen sink on every transaction.
- Outsource when necessary.
- Use data to track performance.
- Solicit employee feedback and suggestions.
- Give customers a sense of control and power.
- Automate shipment status and tracking.
- Use intuitive interfaces.
The Big Picture
Last mile in e-commerce delivery represents one of the greatest opportunities for risk and poor customer out in the modern supply chain. Optimizing last mile in e-commerce will enhance customer experiences, build brand value, reduce costs, and more. Shippers need to start thinking about how they can improve last mile delivery by implementing these tips and understanding its unique challenges today.