What is last-mile delivery? Why last-mile tracking is important
By FarEye | October 13, 2022
The logistics industry has been championing the benefits of optimizing last-mile delivery as a way to gain a competitive edge over rival companies.
If the last-mile delivery operations are not executed efficiently it will create financial dents in the guise of poor productivity, rising overhead costs, low customer loyalty and more. Last-mile delivery costs account for 53% of the total cost of shipping.
With e-commerce sales booming, customer expectations are only getting higher with regards to communication, order tracking, delivery time, and flexibility in receiving the goods. Last-mile tracking helps to provide buyers accurate ETAs and to move goods faster and cost-effectively.
The key aspects which a last-mile delivery tracking service should fulfill are fast delivery, precise order tracking, security, and convenience for consumers.
What is last-mile delivery?
Last-mile delivery refers to the process where products are picked up from a warehouse or a hub and then delivered directly to a customer's doorstep. Customers here can be individuals or businesses. When a grocery store orders items to restock shelves, it is B2B last-mile delivery. When Jane orders a pair of shoes for her father it's B2C last-mile delivery.
Ways to Improve last-mile tracking
Businesses need to make changes in their last-mile delivery tracking service in order to optimize their delivery and retain customers. The growing need to accommodate faster shipping times, changing regulations and infrastructure limitations require businesses to revamp their last-mile operations.
1. Automatic scheduling and dispatching
Tracking last-mile carriers helps businesses to automate job scheduling and task assignment. By automating job scheduling, one is able to utilize resources to the maximum. By implementing tracking in the last mile, delivery information on a per driver basis would be available to easily track, trace, and control delivery operations.
Auto-dispatch helps in the stress-free and efficient management of important deliveries and on-demand orders. By assigning the most suitable driver for the task helps to minimize service time and labor costs. Final-mile tracking of the deliveries helps to reduce inefficiencies that increase the overall costs.
2. Real-time tracking
Last-mile tracking provides complete order transparency to the consumers. Tracking last-mile shipments enables customers to track their package throughout the entire delivery process. It also enables businesses to keep consumers updated with the estimated time of delivery (ETA) and details about the delivery person. Tracking helps to solve internal delivery challenges and communicate critical information to guide the delivery fleet in case of traffic or weather conditions. Real-time tracking also helps in monitoring the efficiency and performance of drivers.
3. Dynamic routing
Dynamic routing helps to map out the best possible route for maximum delivery points by taking last mile problems like traffic or weather conditions into consideration. Last-mile delivery tracking helps businesses to implement route optimization based on customer’s preferred delivery time windows, the maximum number of delivery points and shortest routes to save on fuel costs. It also helps to identify orders in the same delivery windows which are located near one another and can be batched to reduce the cost of delivery. Dynamic routing helps to reduce empty miles thus lowering transport operating costs for businesses.
4. Enhance SLA adherence
In logistics, Service Level Agreements (SLA) are the commitments made between transporter and a vendor promising a certain performance level for their deliveries and parcels made through that transporter. Last-mile shipment tracking service provides businesses with information to measure the success with respect to SLA. Tracking and calculations happen in real-time, allowing instant tracking of SLA performance.
5. Flexible delivery
Tracking of deliveries in the last mile helps to provide multiple delivery options and convenient time slots thus reducing shipping costs and repeat deliveries. This helps in lowering overall delivery costs. It provide customers increased flexibility in scheduling services.
6. Contactless Deliveries
Contactless deliveries refer to the concept of no physical contact with employees, delivery partners, and consumers. Covid-19 pandemic has made customers prefer contactless delivery in order to ensure hygiene and safety.
Last-mile tracking helps to integrate a smooth contactless delivery and provide critical health-related updates like temperature to the customer. By providing information about the delivery person, safety norms taken while delivering the package helps to improve customer experience and loyalty.
7. Predictive visibility
Last-mile delivery services use historical data to make highly accurate predictions. It aids to predict a dependable expected time of arrival (ETA). This helps to meet customer expectations. Predictive visibility allows management to change plans before a delay occurs, use resources to their maximum potential, enhance productivity, and help in efficient fleet management.
Boosting last-mile customer experience
For any business, customer satisfaction is the key which ensures customer referral and loyalty. Delivery in the last mile is the final leg of the delivery journey where customer interaction is at its peak. Hence, a positive customer experience matters a lot in this part of delivery operations.
Amazon is one of the forerunners for boosting the last-mile customer experience through their last-mile service. With their massive distribution centers within a short distance of every major population center, they are able to offer the best fulfillment.
Here are some ways to increase last-mile customer experience are:
1. Ensuring personalized deliveries
Last-mile delivery helps to ensure that customers are provided with personalized delivery options. Understanding the needs of the consumer and providing various flexible delivery options, delivery window timings, or location drops helps to create a personalized bond. This makes the consumer feel that the business is making an effort to tailor service as per their expectations.
2. End-to-end visibility of delivery
Customers prefer to be kept updated regarding their package delivery in real-time. Alerting them by sending messages about the delivery details of the package at any given point ensures greater convenience. By providing a transparent system to view the delivery journey, customers are constantly kept updated.
3. Online chat
Online chat provides a platform where customers can communicate with businesses for information regarding their last-mile service. It helps to respond to customer queries and ensure a smooth last-mile experience of deliveries.
4. Curbside pickups
Owing to the pandemic, more and more customers prefer contactless deliveries and curbside pickups so as to avoid physical contact with other people. By informing customers about the various safety measures put in place for the customer and their employees helps them to trust the last-mile service.
5. Seamless returns
A positive return experience for an online buyer would always make them continue shopping at the same place. Businesses need to have the right systems, clear policies, and procedures set in place to provide a seamless return experience to the customer. Using a last-mile service, return pick-ups can be easily incorporated.
6. Same-day fulfilment
Customers are more than happy to receive their packages within the day after purchasing them from the retailer. With fulfillment being done within a day or few hours becoming the norm for customers, providing same-day deliveries would help to increase customer satisfaction.
Changing trends in last-mile deliveries
An increase in e-commerce trade and changing customer delivery expectations has made last-mile shipment delivery to evolve rapidly to handle time-critical deliveries.
With a vast range of options available like home delivery, same-day delivery, time windows, delayed delivery, alternate location, dropping at centralized locations, the choices are varied and resources and time-limited. Delivery in the last mile needs to take advantage of the various technologies available in the market. Technological advancements like the usage of robots and drones for expediting delivery are going to be very beneficial in the long run.
Autonomous Vehicles and Trucks also known as self-driving vehicles or trucks will also impact last mile logistics.
The increasing concern of the impact of pollution on the environment has businesses promoting zero-emission transport modes like usage of electric vehicles, dynamic route optimization. Increasing usage of smart technology for tracking purposes in real-time has aided businesses to track last-mile logistics.
Technology is playing a very important role in last mile delivery and business need to incorporate this into their existing delivery strategy. With e-commerce giants like Amazon, Walmart gaining fast popularity among customers for their last-mile logistics, businesses need to streamline their delivery service to remain in the competition.
How FarEye Can Help
A last-mile platform empowers businesses to cater to ever-increasing customer expectations and achieve operational efficiency. FarEye's last-mile delivery management software empowers enterprises with the following capabilities:
- Fully customizable solution
- Automatic order allocation
- Automatic dispatching
- Chatbot-based customer support
- Real-time dynamic routing
- Flexible delivery scheduling
- Customer live delivery tracking app
- Electronic proof of delivery