1) Why is the link between Customer Experience and last-mile delivery increasingly important in 2023?
The delivery business has grown rapidly over the past decade, further spurred on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Consumers became used to the convenience of ‘stay-indoors, get home delivery and that habit has stuck and grown too. Standard delivery, 24-hr delivery, Next-day delivery, Hyper-local delivery e.g. for groceries, and medicines – the options are endless, to suit every consumer’s preference.
Therefore, it is natural that logistics have an increasing impact on a business’s bottom line. Unless you have an efficient, flexible, cost-effective delivery operation you will not be able to satisfy customer needs. And, herein lies the key element i.e. Customer Experience.
~~ Planning For Possible Supply-Chain Issues ~~
The extreme pressure exerted by COVID-19 on global supply-chains has not been lost on the logistics industry. Firms are now looking to be more efficient, develop alternatives, and mitigate costs at all levels of their supply chain. Therefore, last-mile delivery logistics assumes even more importance. ~~
Today’s customers have become used to the “Amazon-ization” of delivery schedules i.e. quick delivery, easy returns, and cheap delivery rates. And, unless your last-mile delivery expertise can match their expectations, and provide them with a satisfactory delivery experience – well, you just lost a customer to your competitor!
The objective of this article is to highlight the areas within last-mile delivery that help create a winning Customer Experience.
2) Satisfactory Customer Experience creates loyal customers
The last-mile logistics is the most important cog in the wheel. It is the end-leg, and the part that your customer sees, feels, and experiences. Importantly, in a delivery-business model, it is the only touch point that businesses have with their customers. Therefore, be sure to create a positive impression!
75% percent of customers say that an unsatisfactory delivery experience would certainly impact their decision to order from that firm in the future ~~
Quick-delivery, timeliness, transparency, economical shipping rates, transparency…the list of customer expectations for a satisfactory customer experience is long, and often, challenging.
3) What are the pain points in last-mile delivery logistics?
Well, the primary objective of delivery logistics is to provide customers with an exemplary delivery experience. This includes quick delivery, low costs, payment flexibility, delivery windows, and locations
And, herein lies its greatest pain point i.e. maintaining speed while also maintaining affordability.
Let us look at some leading pain points that affect last-mile delivery efficiency, and therefore, pose challenges in maintaining a favorable Customer Experience.
4) What elements in last-mile delivery create a positive Customer Experience?
i) Using technology: We have already mentioned – a few times already! – how important speed is for today’s delivery businesses because, quite simply, your customer now expects quick delivery. And, the only way that delivery companies can deliver parcels per customer expectations (e.g. 24-hours, Next-day) is by using technology to comprehensively manage every aspect of their operations.
Whether you are a startup, a growth company, or an established player, you cannot do without the suitable deployment of technology in your delivery operations, customer management, supply-chain management, and last-mile delivery – well, just about any area of your business.
~~ Managing Inventory: Localize Inventory To Optimize Distribution. ~~
Using an elaborate and well-distributed network of warehouses is key to managing last-mile efficiency. The closer your inventory is to the end destination, the faster your delivery is ~~
By using modern tech tools and systems, like last-mile delivery software, you can optimize delivery routes for maximum efficiency, stay connected with your end-customer in real-time as his package moves through the lines, collect payment confirmation via ePOD (electronic proof-of-delivery), re-route based on last-minute changes (e.g. customer not available due to an unforeseen event) or emergencies (e.g. an oil spill that has caused road-blockage), and ultimately, make sure that you still deliver the parcel to your customer within promised timelines.
ii) Speed of delivery: Extending the point above, companies cannot hope to win the speed-of-delivery battle without using delivery management software. There are just too many variables to be balanced, and without last-mile delivery software, you would not be able to achieve the required optimization.
Also remember, that delivery speeds are now a competitive advantage for businesses. All other things being equal between competitive suppliers (e.g. Ecommerce sites), a customer would promptly compare the delivery times and then make a decision. Often, the customer will even be willing to pay extra for faster deliveries. Well, you see how much of a game-changer last-mile delivery has now become for the industry!
iii) An elaborate 3PL warehouse network: The more detailed a 3PL warehouse network, the faster they can deliver products to the customer’s doorstep. The logic is pretty clear i.e. the closer a 3PL stores its inventory to the end destination, the lesser time it takes to transport customer parcels.
A judicious mix of large, satellite, intra-city, inter-city, port-based (etc.) warehouses combined with demand-supply planning will ensure that the correct inventory is maintained at the correct warehouses. This will enable you to offer your customers speedy delivery.
iv) Fleet-vehicle and driver management: A critical aspect of maintaining speedy deliveries and managing costs is by optimizing fleet management. This includes maintaining the correct type of fleet vehicles.
The advent of e-vehicles and alternative green fuels offers many suitable models. Also, using the correct vehicles (e.g. two-wheelers within crowded city areas, larger trucks for transporting bulk quantities across cities) is crucial in achieving efficiency as well as in managing operating-cost.
Your last-mile delivery software must be geared to handle scale. Expanding reach, a growing number of fleet vehicles and drivers, more deliveries per day, more destinations and delivery routes, driver training, and route optimization – these are just some elements of the business scale. Unless your delivery-software can adapt seamlessly, you’d come undone.
Another question to be answered is whether to lease your fleet, buy vehicles on company books, or use a mix. Each has its pros and cons, and your business requirements should determine your choices.
Managing drivers is also a critical area of success. The best last-mile delivery logistics ensure a healthy mix of drivers (experience, two-wheeler versus four, availability, etc.) is maintained to best serve the customer.
However, whatever the combination, without using last mile delivery software to best manage your fleet and drivers, not only would you operate at below-par levels, but your delivery choices for customers would also be limited. That, again, would pull down your Customer Experience.
Conclusion: As seen above, you cannot manage the various aspects that impact customer experience without the deployment of modern, last-mile delivery software.
Be sure to select a leading, automated solution like Fleetroot!