The changing shape of the final mile continues to make waves as retailers and shippers look for ways to set their companies apart from competitors and keep customers returning. The use of white glove logistics represents one of the greatest opportunities to offer added levels of service that is essential to moving large items and creating the customized experiences customers demand for e-commerce purchases. However, white glove logistics remain confusing at best and often regaled to the reaches of logistics. Let’s take a closer look at white glove logistics and how they can add value through better experiences in the final mile.
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Driving Forces of More White Glove Service in the Final Mile
White glove strategies allow companies to expand service levels when traditional modes, including both LTL and parcel fall short. Proliferation of larger items available for sale online and the need for installation services or debris haul away are forcing more companies to rethink their standard approach to delivery. Moreover, the need to keep costs under control has never been more important. Of course, scheduling the complexities of large, bulky appliances, furniture, or high-tech equipment is another challenge. While truckload carriers could complete these deliveries, they also carry the risk of being more akin to the stop-and-go nature of the final mile and result in higher freight spend. But that’s only the beginning of issues that arise in trying to offer white glove logistics service levels. For example, consider these challenges and problems, according to Shweta Sarma via Supply Chain 24/7, in managing white glove service:
- White-glove service levels require additional equipment for installation and debris removal.
- Scheduling is more complicated and non-business related.
- White glove may apply to virtually any item requiring extra care, such as valuable and climate-sensitive items, including rare antiques, expensive equipment, and even wedding cakes.
Clearly, the risks are evident, so what companies have taken the initiative to start offering more white glove services?
White Glove Logistics Is Well Suited for Those in the LTL Space
Think about the nature of furniture deliveries. The shipments can be the size of a pallet or more. The shipments may only comprise one or two items. Meanwhile, debris removal, such as hauling away old furniture and appliances, is not something full truckload carriers are prepared to handle. So, more companies have turned to LTL carriers to augment white glove services.
LTL carriers are already attuned to the nature of 10-15 shipments per day, so spending an hour to deliver an item is not a stretch. And in fact, LTL carriers were early adopters of white glove service levels, reports Freight Waves:
“Really, the [most white glove] activity has been with the LTL carriers. The action has been with LTL carriers buying equipment that is different; it may still be 28-foot trailers, but they may be lower roofs, or straight trucks.”
At the same time, customer expectations continue to rise, and companies need to ensure a 100% positive experience in all white glove interactions. After all, delivery guarantees will come under the microscope if issues arise. The risk of damage to goods is much more costly than a simple parcel valued at less than $100. So, how can companies make their final mile services stand out with white glove logistics?
Best Practices to Increase White Glove Service Levels
White glove service is relatively simple to understand. It’s the process of taking extra care—wearing white gloves from the archetypal piano delivery, to go above and beyond in delivery. That perception is what customers expect from every final mile delivery today, so it’s hard to find a way to ensure white glove services add value without breaking the bank. Fortunately, companies can achieve a holistic white glove strategy to improve final mile by following these best practices:
- Consider packaging, reducing risk of damage and adding to the safety of climate-controlled items stored in insulated materials.
- Maintain strict security over items shipped with white glove service, especially for high-value items.
- Work with customers to schedule delivery times, reduce risks of missed deliveries, and ensure someone is at the delivery location before heading out on the final mile.
- Offer advanced customer service with real-time tracking and automated notifications to pre-empt customer calls and inquiries.
- Establish partnerships with debris removal companies to streamline processes.
- Be sustainable, recycling packaging and plastics from shipping for customers.
Implement a White Glove-Capable TMS to Reap the Greatest Rewards
Using a transportation management system (TMS) with embedded white glove service levels or modes is an essential characteristic of successful retailers involved in shipping items with the white glove descriptor. It also reduces the hassle of managing the process and keeps all freight management under the same platform. And, when the right TMS is used, such as the Cerasis Rater, companies can follow all the best practices from within the same platform as well.