The New Year is a great time for reflection. One issue to reflect on? How did your current last mile provider perform during the previous year and through the lucrative holiday season? Did they meet your basic delivery expectations? Did they protect and enhance your brand?
Everyone is fighting to increase their share of online sales. It’s disappointing and costly following your success in securing a prized order, to have it fall apart at a critical stage of the sale cycle – the actual delivery at your customer’s home. We’ve all heard the horror stories and perhaps have experienced them personally when ordering gifts for families or friends. I heard this story from an associate recently about how their online order from a reputable retailer ended in a disastrous delivery resulting in a cancelled order.
My friend ordered a television cabinet from a trusted retailer online. The delivery was one day late and only the first box (of two) arrived. On the second day, the second box (which was damaged) was dumped and left in the snow on their driveway. They were left with a soggy and damaged television cabinet. My friend ended up returning the product (which is costly to the retailer) and cancelling the order – even costlier to the retailer – a lost sale!
Online retailers are constantly searching for ways to prevent this from happening to their customers. This is one of many experiences of countless consumers. Same experience, different consumer. Consumers being served by standard couriers are faced with a few very real challenges. The “last mile” — the final leg between a distribution center and the customer’s doorstep — can be the hardest part of the shipping journey.
Here are just a few customer related pain points that online retailers are trying to solve:
- Purchases left on porches or driveways, even though the customer is home.
- Purchases left out in the elements of extreme weather, rain, snow, high wind, extreme heat, ice, etc., which creates the potential for damage and theft.
- Typical routing for standard courier has the driver attempting multiple times around the same delivery window between 9 am – 5pm, lacking communication and flexibility to ensure a successful attempt is made quickly. This creates a situation for the package to be late and re-delivered several times only to end up back at the depot.
- No proof of delivery, leaving the customer without proof in case of damage of theft.
- Lack of assistance for the elderly and/or physically challenged home owners to receive the purchase, resulting in it being refused or left on the doorstep or driveway.
E-Commerce has made it easier and faster to purchase goods. Online shopping has drastically changed consumers’ behaviour and their expectations. The expectation is not only on Point A to Point B transportation, but what happens at Point B! Successful home and office delivery providers must instead put the focus on the customer. This includes infinite emphasis on brand protection and innovation. Timely, convenient and cost efficient shipping is a priority for the e-commerce consumer and by focusing on the customer, it strengthens the retailers’ brand. With supply chains under even more pressure to fulfill orders, due to decreases in visits to brick and mortar retailers, home delivery providers must be expected to ensure an exceptional customer experience on your E-Commerce / Last Mile Home Deliveries.
In order to avoid inconveniencing your customer base, it’s important to find and select a dedicated last-mile specialist that will not only deliver your brand, but has a vested interest in protecting its equity.
- Offer flexible delivery options and locations that suit the needs of your targeted customers. Flexible last mile service providers will engage consumers on when and where they can receive an order. You will encounter less “not-at-home” cancelations and frustrated customers.
- Differentiate your company when delivering to your customers. Make the most of that critical customer interaction and consider “brand messaging”. Imagine if your driver greets your customer and says “Thank you for shopping with (your company name)”.
- Offer box placement for those awkward sized products such as barbeques, cat litter, cases of water and yes television cabinets! There are last mile providers who will wear white booties and offer cost effective box placement in any room of your customers’ homes.
- Location, location, location. Futurists have forecasted that the demand for small urban warehouses will rise as proximity to the customer plays an increasingly important role in the last mile delivery process. Warehouses located closer to customers are rapidly growing as they provide a way to facilitate the demand for convenience and faster delivery times.
- Multiple deliveries to one consignee can be done cost effectively in a single delivery at the time the customers need it. To do this requires a logistics platform and collaboration of stakeholders including consumers, logistics service providers, and retailers/ manufacturers all of whom are engaged to manage their deliveries.
- Keep abreast of technology - utilize the latest technology to your advantage. Customers are attached to their mobile devices 24/7 and expect to be updated anywhere, any time on the status of their purchases. To remain competitive, last mile service providers need to stay abreast with the latest technology. Real time tracking is essential to accurately trace exactly where a specific order is at any given time. Customers are not just used to these technologies but expect them as part of every delivery experience.
- Finally providing customers with good communication, not just simply providing fast delivery, is key to success. Empathy goes a long way.
Although failures are painful, they can be very helpful for finding opportunities to offer unique solutions that will make you stand apart from your competition. There are solutions available however. The last-mile challenge can be messy, but by customizing how you handle delivery to your target market, you can provide a higher level of customer satisfaction, and grow your business.
If you found this helpful, check out a possible solution at http://asldistribution.com/why-precision/