Industry leaders estimate that the last mile accounts for as much as 50 percent of the total logistics cost in freight management. The supply chain is filled with obstacles from road congestion, remote locations, incorrect addresses, lack of delivery signors, broken elevators- you name it- and it slows delivery times.

The Race to Deliver

When it comes to beating the competition, cutting down on the last mile is everything. Much of the trouble with the final delivery stretch has to do with the volume and personalization of the goods being delivered. Small customized orders have replaced large, bulk loads. The good news is that technological advances are making it easier to bridge the gap, even when there is a high volume of small deliveries to be made at different locations.
For example, implementing warehouse image data capture solutions makes sorting a much more intuitive process. For companies that have already invested heavily in barcode scanning, the next step may be to enable delivery workers to take advantage of all the features of the technology they have on hand. Route mapping and load planning, for example, are good ways to streamline the process.

In the field, networks and lockers are gaining popularity as companies strive to optimize their last mile processes. Lockers allow companies to access parcels as they choose to, and networks help to distribute the workload.

More Tools for the Job

Companies that come closest to mastering the last mile take a customer satisfaction oriented approach to closing the gap. Those with the capital, and the will to look at the last mile from the customer’s point of view, achieve the best results.

Industry leaders use the 7-C approach to customer service. They outfit their units according to these goals:
• Choice: the customer’s ability to choose where and how the package is delivered
• Certainty: the promotion of consumer confidence undercuts alternative shopping choices
• Communication: shipment tracking and customer feedback improves the quality of their experience while they await delivery
• Control: enabling the customer to make changes to delivery parameters
• Convenience: providing communication, choice and control
• Confidence: giving customers the feeling their delivery will go through without difficulty or delay
• Cost-efficiency: offering competitive delivery pricing

To meet all seven Cs, some companies rely on dynamic daily routing systems. These systems work quite differently compared to traditional batch-oriented methods. Dynamic systems enable companies to more easily organize their early and mid-day shipments. By integrating dynamic routing into delivery systems, companies can reduce costs dramatically. This makes it possible to turn around and invest that savings in even more delivery streamlining systems, or to pass the savings on to the customer.

Delivering a Seamless Experience

As companies go further to squeeze down that final stretch, those who make the biggest strides are bound to come out on top. For some outfits, all it takes is a small shift away from manual processes and paper-based systems in order to start seeing major improvements.

In the future, more companies are expected to focus on improving their last stretch delivery strategies. Effective last mile focusing is a sure way for delivery companies to reduce costs and secure customer loyalty.

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