1) Why do companies need to simplify and optimize their product-delivery process?
The world we live in today has shrunk – we travel faster, consume more products from earth’s far-flung corners, and ship products (led by that modern juggernaut Ecommerce) to and from, well, anywhere!
Quite obviously then, Logistics, Distribution, and Transportation have become an integral part of all industries. Under such a scenario it becomes ever more demanding that businesses that deliver products to their customers – whether B2B or B2C- must maintain an A-grade product-delivery process that enables them to supply to a global market.
Another critical reason to be on top of the shipping game is that consumers the world over have evolved, too – weaned on the Same-Day and 24-hr delivery models by Ecommerce giants like Amazon they now expect such shipping times in just about anything they order! And, if it’s “free shipping”, you have their attention even more!
~~ Ecommerce now accounts for 1/5th of all retail sales, with the pandemic having further accelerated its already rapid growth ~
However, maintaining an efficient, simplified, and automated shipping process isn’t an easy task. It requires meticulous planning, and a wide array of resources, and can be extremely complex and taxing (especially when you’re starting out or trying to improve upon existing, legacy processes).
Therefore, implementing best practices is the key to success. Let’s look at the Top 6 strategies that would help in optimizing your product delivery process:
1) Use a top-quality ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) tool:
Well, it’s hardly a secret in today’s world that success comes from using tech tools! The more you can digitize your business operations, the more efficient and profitable you are likely to be…
An ERP is one such tool. In fact, a delivery business cannot really expect to be successful in today’s complex delivery operations without it.
In effect, this is a comprehensive tool in one platform that helps companies to manage and integrate their entire business process from a single, unified dashboard.
Numerous business functions such as logistics, scheduling, inventory, client service, accounting, and finance can be efficiently handled. Drilled down further, even daily tasks including contracts, invoices, cash flow, operating protocol, grievances, supplier management (etc.) can all be efficiently managed. Ultimately, this dramatically increases productivity and efficiency.
2) Use modern, automated order management software:
Just like an ERP helps you plan the core functions of your business, so does an order-management software help to optimize your last-mile delivery, a most crucial aspect of any delivery business. Not only is last-mile logistics the most expensive part of the order-delivery process, but it is also the most complex, and challenging, and needs to constantly balance several variables every day.
The dispatch software optimizes your daily delivery schedules by balancing out numerous elements including traffic congestion, weather patterns, number of stops on a route, reverse pickups, customer delivery windows (etc.) to come up with the most optimized route. Remember, your most optimized route isn’t the fastest, cheapest, or shortest – but, the one that optimizes all factors that influence routing.
The software also provides real-time updates and live communication between customers and logistics teams (drivers, onsite employees, customer service) so that customers don’t face anxiety about their order delivery. Additionally, any changes in delivery times – e.g. due to traffic holdups – can be communicated in real-time.
This is critical in delivering the desirable Customer Experience, which in turn creates happy customers and paves the way for repeat orders. Remember that, delivery-efficiency is a top factor today when customers make purchase decisions – it really is non-negotiable!
3) Optimize your operational workflow:
Given how complex and demanding today’s logistics are, the operations part of the delivery business is particularly important, including the overall workflow, and the roles played by its various stakeholders.
Study your operating procedures, distribution networks, supply chain, stakeholder capabilities, resources (etc.) in great detail as an ongoing practice. That is the first step in constantly improving your product delivery process.
Using modern MIS, automation, CRMs (etc.) to create a transparent working template to clearly outline every stakeholder’s deliverables is critical to success.
~~ Global 3PL revenue figures are now nearly $1Bn with that figure slated for continued growth as modern tech enables companies to sell to a global market ~~
4) Warehouse & Inventory Management:
Warehouse Management is another critical aspect of logistics in the order-fulfillment flowchart. Importantly, it is closely tied to another hugely important area of the supply chain i.e. Inventory Management.
Both these elements not only form a nodal point of freight inward and out, but also command a bulk of your cash flow, operating costs (e.g. carrying costs), and logistics inward-outward.
A well-documented workflow, made conveniently available to all stakeholders via a centralized platform, CRM (etc.), provides real-time information on the status of operations at both, the holistic level as well as individual workflows.
5) Empanel a list of robust 3PLs:
For product companies (e.g. an eCommerce portal, a large nationwide retailer), the first question when trying to optimize its product delivery is the quality of 3PLs in use.
As a company scales, it becomes necessary to use more than one 3PL. Therefore, you must impanel a list of reputed 3PLs to handle the entire scope of your logistics and order-fulfillment business.
Also, it won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ kind of solution. It would be best if you looked at the core competencies of various 3PLs against different types of your order-fulfillment requirements e.g. different shipment sizes, various locations, and specialized services (like white-glove). Look to develop a horses-for-courses type of solution, since that is generally wherein lies the Golden Mean of logistics optimization.
6) Robust data analytics:
With entire supply chains and eco-systems now becoming digitized and brought online, every transaction is recorded as a data point. Naturally, analyzing this data via modern data analytics with powerful AI & ML tools provides deep insight for decision-makers.
It has gotten to be such that the more efficient your Logistics and Distribution process (and hence, your product-delivery mechanisms) the more of a competitive edge you have across key metrics such as delivery times, cash flow, profitability, CapEx utilization (etc.).
Ultimately, this leads to optimum efficiency and minimized operating costs.
Conclusion: As is evident, the efficiency of your product delivery process has now become a competitive advantage that brands use to attract, and retain, consumers. Apart from a well-thought-out Logistics and Distribution plan, among the most important tools that you need is modern, automated delivery software to optimize your supply and delivery logistics.