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As a shipper, you know today's competitive marketplace and changing customer expectations have made it imperative that you provide timely, accurate and visible shipping solutions. Technology and e-commerce shipping innovation have empowered customers with vast choices when it comes to selecting a product. In some cases, that choice may hinge on who can provide fast, hassle-free delivery.

That is why shippers owe it to themselves to optimize every phase of their supply chain to meet this customer demand. One phase they often struggle with is last-mile logistics. But by understanding how to implement best practices to offset associated challenges, companies can increase their customer base and build brand loyalty among buyers.

To accomplish this, many shippers have found great success in working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that has experience in less-than-truckload (LTL) and last-mile logistics shipping. This ensures they have the tools and resources to meet customer expectations and can pivot their shipping strategy when necessary.

What is last-mile logistics?

As the name implies, last-mile logistics (also known as final-mile logistics) refers to a shipment's requirements for the last leg of its journey and delivery. The length of this phase, however, might be less or much more than an actual mile. During final-mile shipping, a product is loaded on a truck at a fulfillment center or other transition location and is then sent to its destination.

Some very important details to understand about final-mile logistics are:

  • Shippers have often found this phase difficult since the final location may be in urban, densely populated or very rural areas.
  • Unloading can also present a challenge if the receiver does not have the proper equipment to handle the shipment.
  • Selecting the right shipping services is imperative to being successful during this final phase.
  • Working with a top freight shipping and last-mile 3PL is often the solution to last-mile success.

What To Look For in a Final-mile Logistics 3PL Provider

Despite the challenges, final-mile logistics does present an opportunity for shippers to differentiate themselves from those that do not provide effective services. Those willing to invest in technology and partner with a last-mile 3PL can optimize their solutions and increase revenue and brand loyalty.

GlobalTranz, an industry-leading 3PL service provider with expertise in last-mile delivery logistics, advises shippers to evaluate the following five areas when considering final-mile logistics companies.

Carrier network

When considering final-mile logistics companies, shippers should look for those with a network of qualified carriers that can provide efficient options for a shipment's entire journey. After all, last-mile logistics becomes irrelevant if the product doesn't make it to that phase in the first place.

Shippers should take a careful look at exactly how a 3PL will help you move your product to a fulfillment center and then to the final destination, and why those solutions can ensure your freight will be delivered on time. Final-mile logistics companies should also be willing to provide references that can tell you about their experiences so you will know their solutions have been successful and are not just philosophical in nature.

Shipping technology

A transportation management system (TMS) is an essential shipping technology platform for supporting your last-mile shipping needs. Final-mile logistics companies should offer a robust TMS that helps shippers:

  • Find the least-expensive LTL linehaul and dedicated last-mile carrier.
  • Manage freight shipping and maintain visibility of shipments en route.
  • Combine bills of lading (BOL) and other documentation from the LTL provider and dedicated last-mile carrier into a single document.
  • Get a multi-modal and unified view of their truckload and LTL shipping.

Final mile shipping speed

Some 3PLs that claim to provide last-mile delivery services rely on LTL providers for both the linehaul and final delivery, which can be problematic. Look for a 3PL that utilizes LTL for the linehaul and a dedicated last-mile carrier that specializes in this service.

This can shorten transit times and ensure your shipments meet deadlines. Your 3PL should be able to offer both and help you determine which carriers are right for your specific shipments.

Accessorial fees and hidden charges

These unexpected charges can add up and impact your bottom line, particularly when operating without the help from a 3PL. In fact, when trying to coordinate carriers for both the linehaul and last-mile delivery, it may be confusing to determine what kind of accessorial fees will be assessed on your invoice.

Common accessorial fees — which often will be tacked on during final mile — include those for redelivery, residential delivery, liftgate usage, inside delivery among others. A last-mile 3PL can help you understand these fees and implement strategies to offset and avoid them.

Prevention and freight shipping insurance

As you know, shipments will be damaged from time to time. It's unavoidable. However, by selecting the appropriate services, carriers and freight insurance coverage, you can do your part to ensure your shipment makes it to its destination undamaged or is protected in the event that it doesn't. A 3PL service partner should provide coverage options and a TMS that allows you to add insurance when you schedule your shipment.

How GlobalTranz Enables Final-mile Success With a Robust TMS

GlobalTranz provides shippers with a full suite of shipping solutions, including last-mile logistics services that help cut costs and keep customers happy. In particular, the GlobalTranz TMS includes an intuitive and efficient final-mile module that automatically provides shippers with a two-carrier move.

The TMS matches the optimal LTL linehaul carrier with carriers that specialize in final-mile logistics. The GlobalTranz final-mile network covers all 48 contiguous U.S. states and can flex to meet any unique need. The system retains critical information regarding the characteristics of pickup and delivery locations, ensuring that the right equipment and service level is provided every time, helping to minimize costly accessorial charges.

By pairing LTL carriers with final-mile providers, the risk of damage is mitigated by a reduction in handling through the shipment's journey. Lastly, the GlobalTranz TMS creates a single invoice and BOL, significantly streamlining and simplifying the payment process.

Solve Last-mile Logistics Challenges With GlobalTranz Shipping Solutions

Navigating the space between various modes can be tricky. The GlobalTranz modal optimization approach is focused on helping our customers determine which mode is best suited to handle their product. Our expert team, backed by our proprietary technology, will assist you.

Our final-mile solutions do not compete with small parcel carriers. Rather, they are a solution that has been purpose-built for businesses with pallet-size (and greater) shipments that would typically be transported via traditional LTL.

GlobalTranz combines the speed and efficiency of an LTL provider with exceptional customer experience at the time of delivery via our dedicated final-mile logistics carriers. Our solution has been designed to take the hassle out of the final mile and allow businesses to get back to what really matters — serving their customers.

Request a consultation with GlobalTranz to learn how your business can benefit from a true "one-stop solution" for your final-mile needs.