Last mile logistics sounds like the simplest part of the supply chain. What’s one more mile after all the distance a product has traveled to arrive at a consumer’s door? But the reality is much more complicated. Classical supply chains’ last miles have traditionally ended in storefronts, where products are delivered in bulk. But the rise of ecommerce, direct-to-consumer logistics have led to the last mile of a supply chain splintering and ending at each customer’s home with individual gates, doormen, and mail rooms to contend with.
The first last mile logistics service in the U.S. was founded by Benjamin Franklin – the United States Postal Service. Today, that service has begun to lose revenue despite moving the most packages nationwide each year since its founding. The changing needs of the American public have weighed on a centuries old system that needs a technological boost to remain competitive, and so does your business!
Hurdles to Overcome with Last Mile Logistics
To find what you’re looking for in an ecommerce delivery partner, first you need to know what pitfalls to watch out for:
As the most complex step of a package’s journey, last mile logistics has the potential to cost upwards of 30% of a logistics budget by itself. By choosing a robust last mile logistics strategy provider, you are also creating an opportunity to decrease shipping costs for customers and thereby decrease checkout hesitation.
Every single box of products your company sells will take a different pilgrimage to its new home. As such, it’s easy to get bogged down in the constant change of delivery protocols and miss delivery deadlines. So, a reliable network of local drivers familiar with their routes is absolutely necessary to get boxes on doorsteps just in time every time.
A transparent supply chain should give you a clear view your business’ efficiencies and challenges from a bird’s eye view. This is particularly important with direct to consumer deliveries as the routes become more complex, and logistics technologies like proof of delivery, driver visibility, and inventory tracking are necessary to create a good customer service experience both to put minds at ease and help diagnose misses.
Important Factors to Consider When Selecting a Last Mile Delivery Partner
These are the things that will keep your customers coming and your last mile supply chain running smoothly:
In an age of Amazon Prime 2-Day Delivery, you’re going to have to be fast to meet customer expectations. Though your delivery schedules likely won’t be quite that quick at all times, choosing a speedy 3pl logistics partner can still deliver products to ecommerce customers at above-average speeds while reducing warehousing and fulfillment costs.
Precise Order Tracking
The complex nature of last mile logistics will lead to occasional delays and early deliveries outside of your expected delivery window. For this reason, supply chain visibility technology with direct consumer communication tools are absolutely necessary to ensure customers know when to be expecting their packages.
Robust Customer Service
Delays in delivery are a reality every online shopper and ecommerce business has and will experience. We can’t escape them, but we do have control over how we handle them. Some logistics providers don’t have the dedicated staff or tools necessary to give your customers realistic, updated expectations. Don’t get stuck with their subpar troubleshooting, and instead create positive experiences to retain customer loyalty.
These factors make for a great checklist to find an ecommerce logistics provider. But last mile logistics only accounts for the last step of your inventory’s journey to the customer. To ensure you’re getting the best deal and the best customer experience, consider a single provider for your warehousing, inventory management and fulfillment needs as well to allow you to focus on what your business does best.