Optimizing the Last Mile
Doing last-mile logistics correctly leads to repeat business and loyal customers, but final-mile processes involve more than just a truck and driver.
1. Determine how fast the delivery really needs to be. While offering fast deliveries may be important, what is more important to customers is knowledge about when the order will be delivered.
2. Offer flexible delivery options. Consumers are demanding and will abandon a purchase if not given the delivery choice they want—ideally same-day or next-day with free shipping. Offer choices based on delivery method and location, and time frame.
3. Provide order tracking information. To enhance the customer experience, let them know when you receive the order, when it shipped, and when it arrives at the destination. GPS and telematics devices in delivery vehicles send exact locations to customers through transport apps that provide the ability to alert customers if the arrival of their order will be delayed.
4. Improve visibility into supply chain processes.A collaborative network connects suppliers, buyers, and logistics service providers. Delivery data can be collected and shared along the network, letting all connected parties know what is happening, such as a potential problem or traffic jam with a transportation route.
5. Attach conveyors directly to trucks in the loading dock area. Conveyors speed the loading of trucks. The faster packages get into trucks, the quicker deliveries can occur.
6. Use brick-and-mortar stores as fulfillment centers. When filling online orders, use carton flow systems, storage racks, or tilted shelving to speed order picking operations and to hold inventory. Locating storefronts closer to the end customer cuts down on shipping costs and delivery time.
7. Eliminate mispicks in order picking operations. Optimize your warehouse layout and invest in materials handling equipment that can boost productivity. For example, using labels on storage racks helps pickers quickly identify items for picking. Flow racks deliver products to pickers; with reduced walk times pickers are less tired and more sharp.
8. Share your expectations for the delivery. If you outsource deliveries to third-party providers, train them on your policies. If drivers notice that a package has been destroyed, for example, make sure they know not to leave it, which will create a bad impression of the retailer with the consumer.
9. Train customer service reps. Your customer service representatives should be professional and as helpful as possible when handling issues around incorrect or delayed deliveries, package theft, or damaged products. In these instances, offer a replacement or credit the customer’s account quickly.
10. Use technology to plan and optimize driver routes.GPS and telematics systems enable transport departments to know where trucks are at all times and ensure drivers follow the planned route. Companies can alert drivers to traffic issues and provide alternative routes to keep deliveries on track.
SOURCE: Brian Chan, Product Manager, UNEX Manufacturing