The Challenges of Last Mile Delivery

How to eliminate delivery delays is an important question. Ever since the advent of e-commerce, the ease of doing business has increased tremendously as well as the challenge of last mile delivery.

Last mile delivery is defined as the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination. The final delivery destination is typically a personal residence. The focus of last mile logistics is to deliver items to the end user as fast as possible. Last mile logistics has become a popular area of interest for retailers due to the growing demand for fully integrated omnichannel retailing. Evolving omnichannel needs have forced retailers to evaluate current transportation network capabilities and make adjustments accordingly.

Improving your product delivery and lasi mile delivery processes can have a substantial impact on your customer satisfaction and overall success. If you want to grow your business and eliminate delivery delays , then you will want to evaluate your shipping methods, among many other aspects that can delay your products getting to your customer’s front door.

Consider aspects that delay your shipping and last mile delivery, such as:

  • Customers ordering out-of-stock products
  • Growing too quickly to keep up with demand
  • Using shipping services that don’t prioritise your company
  • Documentation mistakes
  • System failure and out of date software
  • Bad Weather – not much you can do about this one but needs to be taken into consideration

The causes of delivery delays are numerous, and not limited to the aforementioned reasons. Delivery delays can greatly affect your e-commerce business, negatively. Businesses that do not act to eliminate delivery delays often experience a drop in sales. Most customers are genuine and understanding. They know that human error can lead to delivery problems. However, if they experience delivery delays on more than one or two occasions, then they are likely to lose trust in your business. Remember, the reputation of your business is at stake. Therefore, it is imperative that you deal with delay issues promptly.

Last mile delivery issues and delivery time is directly connected to customer retention. Customers who experience a delivery delay when ordering for the first time are unlikely to order again from the same company. Late delivery also affects your loyal customers. They are likely to take a considerable amount of time before ordering again. You can imagine how big an impact this can have on your profits, as well as on your reputation. This explains why some e-commerce businesses are so successful, while others are lagging behind in terms of growth. If you cannot manage prompt deliveries, it is advisable that you enlist the services of a fulfilment company.

The fact is that the holidays are coming up and the January sales are just around the corner, it’s the time of the year for shipping delays. Start planning now for your last mil delivery processes and you can eliminate delays, or at least navigate your setbacks very well.

Optimisation is key

Optimisation for shipping tackles a few issues head-on specifically before and during the ordering process. You’ll need to look at your manufacturing operations. Shipping delays happen long before your products go out for delivery. In fact, most delays happen early into the supply chain, specifically during manufacturing. Improving your material handling and quality control can significantly reduce unnecessary friction, and interruptions in work as well.

Then, implement a distribution or shipping system that syncs with your inventory. It’s true, there are a thousand different software solutions that companies need now, but you do need to use an eCommerce platform that will sync up with your inventory control system, preferably through a business or resource management software. A WMS is also key to have visibility and manageability of your inventory.

Communicate with Your Customers

Don’t ignore your customers when things start to fall apart. Communicate and be upfront with them as quickly as possible. You can even automate some tasks so that your customers will know right away when something is amiss.

Take these actions to communicate with your customers quickly and effectively:

  • Use your resource management software to update items as “out of stock” or “Going Quickly” immediately.
  • Always provide users with tracking information on their packages. Be sure to test your codes, so customers don’t receive incorrect tracking info.
  • Send out emails when there are known delays due to schedule or delays with primary parcel services.

Now more than ever, customers don’t see any excuse for companies not to provide clear and quick communication. You might even go so far as to commit to communication through multiple channels now that 57% of customers prefer to communicate through email or social media.

Although emails are always more personal, if a customer made their purchase through Instagram, it may be best to send them a message regarding their shipping delay through Instagram.

Even a simple social media post alerting people to check their email will help use the multiple-channels to ensure that your communication efforts are consistent and apparent.

Keep Your Scalability Under Control

Can growth ever be a bad thing? Yes, it absolutely can. There are countless examples of companies that couldn’t control their growth, and it led to shipping nightmares and usually a business failure. This holiday season could be your company’s big break. But if you can’t monitor and handle your growth, it can also spell disaster.

There are ways to manage rapid business growth, and it is keeping your focus on the customer. Always circle back to whether you can meet customer needs and meet them with the level of quality you’ve established for your brand.

If you realise that you are growing too quickly, then weave the exclusivity of your products into your brand’s voice. Create the volume of products that you can sustain, at the quality you want, and within your production capacity. By taking this approach, you may even work your way into becoming known as a luxury brand or the next elusive experience.

Engage a Reliable Partner

If you’re a do-it-yourself type of business, then it isn’t surprising that you experience shipping delays. There are some businesses that genuinely can do everything. Amazon has proven that a company can rise from nothing to controlling an international distribution network. But it doesn’t work out that way for everyone.

Instead, look into your outsourcing your distribution and shipping through a 3PL. Typically a 3PL fulfilment provider will have you stock up their many warehouses, and when an order comes in, they’ll immediately send out the product. Rather than directly responding to each order, you can focus on keeping the warehouses well-stocked.

When looking for the right shipping and distribution partner, make sure you find someone that looks out for your customers too to ensure you eliminate any last mile delivery issues.

In Summary

By focusing on last mile delivery alternatives retailers are able to provide and guarantee exceptional service levels to their customers and adapt to the constantly changing omnichannel retail environment.

Ultimately, you may need to draw back on your perks. If you can’t manage free delivery, then consider other options. Some 3PL services offer free delivery for a substantially lower cost than what providing free delivery yourself would be, or you can offer lowered delivery costs on large orders.

Additionally, give careful thought to your delivery dates, mainly through the end of the year. Be reasonable with estimations and if you generally honour two-day shipping and can’t manage it through the holiday season, communicate that with your customers.

What it always comes back to is putting your customers first. Shipping delays happen, and you can get ahead of them with careful management of your manufacturing processes, setting realistic shipping expectations, and choosing the right shipping solution to ensure last mile delivery success.

Investing is the latest technologies such as cloud WMS systems will also ensure to eliminate delivery delays.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.

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